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.
The Galaxy S8 will debut with a subset of Bixby-ready apps when it arrives next month, but Samsung didn't specify which ones will support the virtual assistant. Completeness When an application becomes Bixby-enabled, Bixby will be able to support nearly every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface (ie. touch commands).
Unlike AI assistants from Apple, Google, and Alexa, Samsung says Bixby won't just be a voice answering questions. Samsung says that when an app is Bixby-enabled, Bixby "will be able to support nearly every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface". Samsung calls this "cognitive tolerance". In other words, anything you could do by touching the app, you should be able to do with your voice or Bixby.
Samsung has pre-announced Bixby in a detailed blog post that is half product announcement, half manifesto. Indeed, the company has gone on to state that Bixby is fundamentally different from its peers and comes packed with a slew of features that make it that much more capable.
The biggest chunk of the press release, however, is dedicated to the company's desire to make speaking to an AI assistant natural - that is, rather than have users conform to the assistant's limited command vocabulary, Bixby will try to understand what users are asking of it, even when they supply incomplete information. The company also announced that it will be adding a dedicated button to its next smartphone that could be used to call upon Bixby.
What do you think of Bixby?
Samsung promises Bixby will let you control everything on your phone and Bixby-powered apps with your voice.
With the launch of the Galaxy S8, a number of apps will be able to run with Bixby. Basically, any device that has a microphone and an internet connection - Bixby is cloud-based - will be able to get Bixby, including Samsung's vast roster of appliances. The official added that "The Galaxy S8 has one volume control button unlike the previous two". 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 and Head of R&D, Software and Services, Samsung Electronics, spoke at length today about the oncoming release of Bixby.
Of course, first impressions are everything when it comes to virtual assistants (just ask all the people that tried Siri when it first came out, found it disappointing, and never looked at it again), and Bixby is going to have to deliver if it is going to be as revolutionary as Samsung hopes. That doesn't mean that Bixby has to do "everything" to start, but what it does do it has to do really well, so users feel like there's a strong jumping off point that will only get better with updates.