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Microsoft & Harman Kardon take aim at Apple, Amazon & Google with 'Invoke' smartspeaker

Microsoft and Harman Kardon on Monday officially revealed the Invoke, a device that will take on the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple's rumored Siri-based device in the smartspeaker market.

The Invoke will be based on Microsoft's Cortana, and support functions around music, calendars, reminders, traffic, and news. Like its rivals smarthome control will be another key component, though it's not yet clear which platforms or accessories it will support.

The speaker will also natively support hands-free calling through Microsoft's Skype. To date, neither the Echo or the Home have had built-in calling functions, though those are rumored additions later this year.

In terms of hardware the Invoke will use far-field technology and seven microphones, like the Echo making it able to pick up voices from across a noisy room. Harman Kardon is promising superior sound output however, with three woofers, three tweeters, and and two passive radiators. The product also offer better build quality in the form of a metallic cabinet.

The Invoke should ship this fall as a U.S. exclusive, with pricing yet to be set. To set up the device people will be able to use Windows 10 or the Cortana app for iPhone and Android.

Apple's Siri speaker is likewise predicted to emphasize high-quality audio, featuring seven tweeters, one woofer, and/or the company's W1 wireless chip. It may also support AirPlay, and even run a variant of iOS. An announcement could take place as soon as this June's Worldwide Developers Conference.