Harman Kardon Invoke owners say “Goodbye Cortana. Hello $50.”

I received an email from Microsoft today outlining some upcoming changes to Cortana and more specifically Cortana on the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker. The changes and timeline are as follows:

Harman Kardon Invoke
  • September 7, 2020 – Support for third-party Cortana skills ends.
  • Early 2021 – Support Cortana app for mobile (iOS and Android) ends.
  • January 2021 – Support for Cortana service integration with Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker ends.

That last one means you won’t be able to interact with Cortana on your Invoke after January, but Microsoft is making sure that you can keep using it as a speaker. Harman Kardon is releasing a firmware update in early 2021 which will let the Invoke continue to be used as a Bluetooth speaker. After you install the firmware update, Cortana will no longer be available on the device.

The firmware will be automatically delivered to any devices connected via Wi-Fi for six months after its release. Want to keep using your Invoke atfer the Cortanapocalypse, make sure it’s online during the first half of 2021.

Something to ease the pain…

You may be sad about losing access to your favorite assistant, but Microsoft will ease your pain with a $50 Microsoft Store gift card. The criteria for the gift card are (from the redemption site):

  • The Microsoft gift card offer is for the owner of the last U.S. Microsoft account that was used to set up an Invoke speaker that sent a voice request to the Cortana service since July 31, 2019, and prior to our announcement.
  • The MAC address must match an eligible active Invoke. One gift card per Invoke.
  • This offer does not apply for Invoke speakers that were part of a developer or employee program in which the Invoke was provided free of charge, and is not available outside the U.S.
  • The owner of an eligible Invoke device must claim the gift card by July 30, 2021.

The key point in bullet number one is you had to have used Cortana on the Invoke before today. Don’t plan to go on a hunt for in-the-box Invokes collecting dust on some shelf out there.

How to claim your gift card

The claim process is quick and easy. Just:

  1. Go to the redemption site using your favorite browser: http://www.bing.com/cortanainvokeredemption
  2. Log on with the same Microsoft account used to setup the Invoke.
  3. Enter the MAC address of the speaker. You can find the MAC either on the device itself or in the Cortana mobile app. If you have more than one Invoke, you can contact customer support for assistance.
  4. If you qualify, you will be provided with a digital code that you redeem to add $50 to your Microsoft account balance.
The Enchanted Tiki Invoke
The Enchanted Tiki Invoke resides amongst the rum bottles and tiki books in my kitchen.

I just claimed my $50 gift card for The Enchanted Tiki Invoke (yes, that’s what I named my speaker). Not a bad deal considering I only paid $49.95 for my Invoke in November 2018. Harman Kardon was clearing out some inventory and even include free shipping. I knew Cortana was on the way out at the time, but I figured it was a decent price for a high-quality Bluetooth speaker.

You can see all the details about the upcoming changes in Microsoft’s blog post “Upcoming changes to Cortana” and in the “Cortana service on the Harman Kardon Invoke” FAQ.

Update August 1: Microsoft is also removing some Cortana features from the first gen Surface Headphones. According to the Cortana changes for Surface Headphones (First version) FAQ:

  • When using your Surface Headphones with Android and iOS devices, you won’t be able to activate Cortana by saying “Hey Cortana” or by touching and holding the touchpad on either ear. This means you won’t be able to use Cortana to make calls, play music, or do other things, such as check the weather. If you reset your headphones and pair them again, you will still be able to touch and hold the touchpad on your Surface Headphones to activate the default personal assistant on your phone.
  • When using your Surface Headphones with the Windows 10 May 2020 Update or later installed on your PC, you won’t be able to activate Cortana by saying “Hey Cortana” or by touching and holding the touchpad on either ear for certain functions, such as making a call or listening to music.

    However, you will still be able to touch and hold the touchpad on your Surface Headphones or say “Hey Cortana” to activate Cortana to do things like check your calendar, set a reminder, and add to your to-do lists.
  • The Cortana mobile app will be retired on all supported platforms; so you won’t be able to use it to update your Surface Headphones and customize settings, such as change equalizer settings, turn touch controls on or off, or turn voice prompts on or off. Moving forward, download and use the Surface Audio app to change your settings and to install the latest updates for your Surface Headphones.

Microsoft is also offering compensation to owners of the first gen Surface Headphones in the form of a $25 gift card. You can request yours at: https://www.bing.com/surfaceheadphoneredemption