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Samsung officially announces Bixby virtual assistant

Bixby is Samsung's take on the digital voice assistant. (Source: Samsung)
Bixby is Samsung's take on the digital voice assistant. (Source: Samsung)
Samsung's new digital assistant, Bixby, is "fundamentally different" from the competition's digital assistants. With advanced artificial intelligence at its core, Bixby will debut on the Galaxy S8. Samsung hopes to eventually bring the assistant to all of its appliances.

Apple has Siri. Google has Assistant. Microsoft has Cortana, and Amazon has Alexa. And now, Samsung has Bixby.

Today, Samsung announced Bixby, a “new intelligent interface on [their] devices.” Bixby is, at its core, a digital assistant designed to integrate with Samsung’s phones and improve the user experience. When developing Bixby, Samsung “employed artificial intelligence, reinforcing deep learning concepts to the core of [their] user interface designs.” The Korean tech giant says that Bixby is “fundamentally different from other voice agents or assistants in the market” and “offers a deeper experience.”

Bixby was designed with three main characteristics in mind: completeness, contextual awareness, and cognitive tolerance. Applications that are “Bixby-enabled” will be able to perform via voice commands all tasks normally available to users. This includes actions carried out via touch input. Bixby will also remain fully aware of its surroundings; when called upon, the assistant will know where it is and what the user wants to do, regardless of where in the compatible app or task the user is. This will “allow users to weave various modes of interactions including touch or voice at any context of the application,” according to Samsung. Additionally, Bixby will be able to understand “incomplete language” and “execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge,” asking users to give it more information if needed. Samsung contrasted this with current digital assistants that require precise keywords to act.

Bixby-enabled phones will have a dedicated “Bixby button” on the side of the device to eliminate “confusion around activating a voice interface.” The first phone to feature Bixby will be the Galaxy S8, slotted for release later this month. Currently, Samsung is planning for only a small set of preinstalled apps to be Bixby-enabled. The company will release an SDK for third-party development sometime in the future.

Bixby isn’t exclusive to smartphones. Samsung hopes to bring the assistant to all of their appliances, including air conditioners and TVs. Samsung is betting big on Bixby. We’ll have to wait until the release of the Galaxy S8 to see just how useful Bixby is, but the future looks promising.


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Sam Medley, 2017-03-20 (Update: 2017-03-20)