This could be good news for those who just want a decent phone, and don't care about the machinations behind the scenes.
Rumours of Samsung working on a more advanced replacement for its relatively lackluster S-Voice started appearing toward the end of a year ago and now we finally have confirmation on its existence from the company. As per some of the leaks and rumors so far, in essence, Bixby is a virtual assistant similar to Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana, and Apple's Siri. Bixby is the product of Samsung's acquisition of Viv Labs a year ago.
Talking to The Verge, Rhee said Bixby is an "intelligent user interface, emphasis on interface".
What about you? From what you've heard about Bixby, do you think Samsung's onto something here?
Now Samsung has officially unveiled its own spoken word interface - and it's called Bixby. Completeness refers to the assistant's ability to trigger almost any task inside an application that can be triggered using a touch command.
In a lengthy blog post, Samsung's head of R&D for Software and Services, InJong Rhee, said Bixby will stand out from competing AI-based assistants (or "agents") through three main factors - completeness, context awareness, and cognitive tolerance. 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".
Bixby will also be context aware, allowing users to activate Bixby within a particular application and have it "understand the current context and state of the application and will allow users to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously". Even in Google Assistant, users will have to unlock the phone to ask it to make a call. All three of these features are created to make talking to Bixby feel natural, eliminating the learning curve that sometimes comes with voice assistants. Samsung highlights that most voice agents or assistants impose the interaction mode and/or are cumbersome when switching between modes, but Bixby lets users choose whichever type of interaction they find most intuitive and comfortable.
Samsung knows that learning a new interface can be challenging and in some cases tiresome, causing some users to revert to the touch interface. Ultimately users are at the mercy of designers with an increasingly steep curve that makes learning about a new device hard. "We do have a bold vision of revolutionising the human-to-machine interface, but that vision won't be realised overnight".
So, Samsung's giving it another go, and this time it's attempting a different strategy.
"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", Rhee continued. They expect to release a tool in SDK to provide third-party developers the chance to make their Bixby-enabled applications.
Bixby will be at the core of Samsung's "next device" which we all know is the Galaxy S8, but it will also make its way into other Samsung appliances including TVs, Air Conditioners and more in the future. Instead of relying on Google's expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence, Samsung is going rogue with its own digital assistant.