With only a week until the Galaxy S8 is finally launched, the company have revealed their new AI assistant Bixby, who will be enabled in a number of pre-installed apps. Bixby is the latest competitor in the field of smartphone assistants that currently includes Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.
Countless leaks over the past few months have suggested what the flagship Galaxy S8 will look like but there has been no leaks as of yet regarding hardware features other than the voice-activated Bixby. Samsung have stated in a release that Bixby will focus on users controlling mobile apps with their voice and that it will “be our first step on a journey to completely open up new ways of interacting with your phone.”
“Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but as the capabilities of machines such as smartphones, PCs, home appliances and IoT devices become more diverse, the interfaces on these devices are becoming too complicated for users to take advantage of these many functions conveniently,” said InJong Rhee, executive vice president, head of R&D software and services at Samsung. “Samsung has a conceptually new philosophy to target this problem: instead of humans learning how a machine interacts with the world, it is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us.”
The depth of Bixby is exactly what makes it different to all other AI voice assistants. Once an app is Bixby-enabled, you will be able to manage that app with voice control rather than touch commands and Samsung have highlighted that other AI assistants available today are only able to support a number of limited tasks. Plus, when using a Bixby-enabled app, you will be able to use the assistant at any time as it is able to understand context. “Most existing agents completely dictate the interaction modality and, when switching among the modes, may either start the entire task over again, losing all the work in progress, or simply not understand the user’s intention,” explained Rhee.
With assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant, users are required to give a specific voice command for the tasks they wish it to complete. Bixby, on the other hand, is clever enough to know what you want without giving it the complete information and will even ask you for more information so that it can break the task down to make them easier and more manageable. Much like Apple’s Siri, however, users can access Bixby with the simple touch of a command button rather than unlocking the phone and spending time searching for an application.
The Galaxy S8 is due to be released on March 29 and Samsung have stated that this will be updated over time, eventually to include a tool (in SDK) for third party developers to add support to Bixby in applications and services. Other smart appliances by Samsung such as TVs and fridges will also feature this smart assistant.