Samsung launches Bixby A voice-assistant program in its new phone

Bixby allows users to activate nearly every touch-enabled function through voice commands and understands context better than its earlier rivals as it is capable of asking follow-up questions.

With this move, the South Korean heavyweight takes on fellow competitors like Apple, Google and Amazon and their own respective voice-enabled helpers in the face of Siri, Assistant (as well as Now), and Alexa. Instead of humans learning how the machine interacts with the world, it is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) for allowing deep learning to be reinforced in Samsung's user interface and devices. Now Samsung will have one, too, and Bixby sounds like a pretty ambitious effort.

Samsung also said that it plans to bring Bixby to a wide range of different devices, not just flagship phones. The Galaxy S8 will have a dedicated button for Bixby on the side of the phone to allow users to activate the voice assistant without having to touch the screen, according to the company. Once Bixby is activated, it will then understand the current context and state of the application and will be able to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously.

Samsung said Bixby represents a twist on the philosophy behind technology. "In the future, you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby", said InJong Rhee, executive vice president and head of R&D for Samsung's software and services division.

Keen to find out more about Bixby? By this Samsung means Bixby can understand commands even with incomplete information.

Bixby will also be gradually applied to all of Samsung's appliances, which should be the most unbelievable aspect of this virtual assistant considering Samsung's enormous appliance portfolio. "Bixby is capable of developing a new interface to our devices, or devices that are going to host Bixby". This should clear up user confusion about what and what isn't accessible by voice command - everything is.

There have been so many leaks about Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S8 that, come launch day, there will be nothing new to learn.

Starting with our smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances. Rhee also says that Bixby won't be restricted to specific voice commands - users will be able to speak in more natural language.

  • Carolyn Briggs