Samsung has finally announced its artificial intelligence-based voice assistant, Bixby on Monday. The assistant is expected to be one of the features of the Samsung Galaxy S8, when it is announced on March 29.
“Bixby will be our first step on a journey to completely open up new ways of interacting with your phone. At the launch of the Galaxy S8, a subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled. This set will continue to expand over time. Our plan is to eventually release a tool (in SDK) to enable third-party developers to make their applications and services Bixby-enabled easily,” InJong Rhee, executive vice-president, head of research and development, software and services said in the official press release.
Here are some interesting facts about the new feature:
Samsung won’t follow Google’s strategy of keeping its voice assistant exclusive to one device. While the Google Assistant was exclusive to the company’s flagship Pixel devices at launch, Samsung stated in the official press release that it wouldn’t keep Bixby exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S8. In fact, it will be available to all Samsung internet-connected devices, unlike the Google Assistant, which has not come to Android tablets.
“Starting with our smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances. In the future you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby. Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby. As the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life,” the company said in its official press release.
Simply put, Samsung wants to use the Bixby voice assistant, to help create a smart home system in collaboration with the rest of its offerings such as smart washing machines, vacuum cleaners etc.
Samsung doesn’t want Bixby to be a separate, seldom used feature like S-voice. Instead, the company wants apps to be Bixby enabled. So, when you use the Bixby button to summon the assistant, you will also be able to command apps using the voice assistant. This way, Bixby will be able to do every task normally performed by the app.
Bixby will keep in mind what the tasks you are performing at the time you are using it and then issue context-specific responses.
In the press release, Samsung stated that it wants the voice assistant to be ‘natural’ i.e. rather than relying on the voice assistant’s built-in functionality, it will use machine learning to evolve according to usage. Samsung hasn’t entirely detailed how it plans to do so, but the company has hinted at functionality, which will be intrinsic on whatever tasks you perform on your smartphone. The company says that Bixby will prompt you for extra information, which will then let it participate minimally in the tasks you perform.
Samsung has also dismissed earlier rumors that Bixby will not be included in the Samsung Galaxy S8 at launch, although it indicated that the assistant will be improved overtime by regular software updates.
“There has been a lot of excitement and speculation about what we will deliver with the launch of the Galaxy S8 later this month, especially due to the advancements in artificial intelligence. We do have a bold vision of revolutionizing the human-to-machine interface, but that vision won’t be realized overnight. Ambition takes time.”
The Samsung Galaxy S8 will be launched on March 29 at an expected price of $800-899.