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Microsoft may be working on a Cortana smart speaker to rival Echo, Google Home

Virtual Assistants: Cortana

Popularity contests aren’t relegated to the halls of high school — they remain alive and well in the world of smart assistants, too. And thus far, Microsoft Cortana has been losing that competition. As assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri continue to gain ground in terms of functionality and user numbers, Cortana has faded to the background a bit. But this may change now that Microsoft is rumored to be working on its own smart speaker.

While Cortana is not entirely absent in the realm of smart home hubs (it currently powers the Invoke from Harman Kardon), Microsoft has not released its own Cortana-integrated piece of hardware. But as devices like the Google Home, Amazon Echo, and even Apple HomePod become ever more ubiquitous, Microsoft may finally think that it’s time to join the future.

As per German website WinFuture, new documents from a Microsoft development team suggest that the Bellevue, Washington-based company is teaming up with Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer in order to bring this new smart speaker to market. While the documentation does not explicitly mention Cortana, it only seems reasonable that the company would use its own voice assistant rather than tapping into a rival’s technology.

It’s also likely that Qualcomm will have something to do with the endeavor. Back in January during CES 2018, Qualcomm announced that its own smart home technology would support Cortana, which means that Microsoft will likely lean on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 212 system-on-chip to form the foundation of the speaker.

Of course, much of this remains conjecture, and while the rumor mill continues to churn, there has been no confirmation from any of the involved parties that Microsoft is moving forward with a Cortana-powered smart speaker plan. And as per WinFuture, the obtained documents suggest that the timeline is still quite murky, and that the companies are still quite early in the process. Microsoft could always decide to abandon its plans altogether, in which case you’ll have to stick with the current options from Amazon and Google.

Regardless, we will keep you posted as Microsoft’s plans emerge and evolve. After all, who couldn’t use another smart speaker in their life?

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Lulu Chang
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