Sadly, for anyone who bought into the idea of a Cortana-laden future of home sensors and speakers, Microsoft has all but ended that vision. For devices imbued as smart devices through the power of Cortana have been depowered over the past three years and returned to their figurative dumb-device origins.
The Microsoft and Harman Kardon collaborative smart speaker is the latest of Cortana powered pieces of hardware to lose support for the digital assistant and according to HK, owners have until June 30, 2021, to update their device to convert it to a simple Bluetooth speaker.
More specifically, HK is warning that without the limited time update, any devices not patched within the window will lose not only Wi-Fi connectivity but also Bluetooth, effectively rendering the Harmon/Kardon Invoke speaker an expensive paperweight.
Q: What if I change my Wi-Fi network name and password?
A: If you change your Wi-Fi network name and password, the Invoke will permanently disconnect from your Wi-Fi network and the Invoke will not receive any further updates. The Wi-Fi will disable automatically on July 31st, 2021, so please keep your device connected until the Wi-Fi is automatically disabled.
Ironically, the update process still runs through the Cortana Device Setup app for Windows with new instructions for the latest patch. Harmon/Kardon warns users who have considered resetting their device or making changes to their Wi-Fi network and passwords ahead of the latest update, don’t.
HK temporarily disabled the full breadth of the reset feature and warns that changes to Wi-Fi will permanently kick off the device from home networks without a pathway to establishing a new network. Basically, make sure to update before tinkering with the device now.
If losing access to hands-free and straightforward Wi-Fi connection experiences with the Invoke wasn’t bad enough, it also appears the semi-futuristic blue circle that appeared on the top ring of the device is also being shuttered.
Q: What about the tap feature? How will that work once Cortana is removed from the device? Will the blue ring remain at the top?
A: After the update, the top panel touch function will control Bluetooth audio playback. The blue ring will be removed from top-panel animations. Detailed information about how to operate your Invoke speaker with Bluetooth will be posted here when available.
Fortunately, the sound on the Invoke is pretty solid and the device can still be used as a plain ol’ Bluetooth speaker but if Microsoft’s depowering of the Invoke has left you a bit chaffed with the company, the company is offering a $50 gift card for your troubles. There are some minor stipulations in place to receive the gift card such as being an early or original owner who has also at least spoken to Cortana once on the device before its untimely demise.
There is a bit of confusion as to when this new update began rolling out with the QA page stating March 10, 2010, despite the device not hitting store shelves until the Spring of 2017 at the earliest. Presumably, the beginning rollout date is a typo, and that HK will be issuing the update in two days if it hasn’t already begun doing so.