Wanna have Bixby but who is he? He is Samsung’s voice agent: an AI, or assistant, or bot, that Samsung wants to work alongside touch input on your smartphone. It has big aspirations for its virtual assistant and its debut on the Samsung’s new Android flagships, the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 plus. Bixby is thus an AI system that’s designed to make device interaction easier, specifically designed to avoid the complexity of increasingly fully-featured devices. Not only will you find him on the Samsung Galaxy S8 devices, but is designed to work across a range of Samsung products. In the future you can expect to be using Bixby to control the TV, air conditioning as well as phones and Samsung uses this new service to provide one method of interaction with a full range of technologies.
Bixby- How does it work
Well Bixby is quite wonderful and it is designed to let you carry out a full range of interactions, rather than launching an app for example, or carrying out a single task. Samsung says that Bixby will be able to do just about everything you can do with an app using touch.
Samsung’s “intelligent interface” is, at its core, very similar to the prospect promised by Google Assistant or Sir, a virtual assistant that recognises your voice input and responds to commands you give it. While its Apple and Google competitors are great at intepreting fixed phrases and running set commands, though, Samsung’s goal for Bixby is in compatible apps to do everything touch can do.
Bixby can recognise the state that the app is in and take the right actions based on your requests, also letting you mix voice or touch. It understands natural language and this means that you don’t need to use set phrases, but you can give incomplete information and It can interpret and take action. As well as responding to voice commands for theoretically any basic task you want to run on your phone, also can also use the Galaxy S8’s camera to read business cards, scan QR codes and recognise landmarks, with an augmented reality mode offering information for sightseeing tourists as well as translating 52 different languages.
On the Galaxy S8, Bixby can be launched using a dedicated button on the side of the device: a short tap to hit the Bixby home screen with a user’s personal data like calendar reminders or step tracking or restaurant recommendations, and a long press to launch Bixby’s voice recognition and text-to-speech contextual responses for running commands.
For those not diving into the full voice service – or those who can’t get it because it’s not supported in their country – then there’s Bixby Home. Samsung showcased Bixby Home learning from your routine, updating to reflect how you use your phone throughout the day. It also showed an Uber card in Bixby home, suggesting that Uber will be on the list of supported apps. In essence, Bixby Home looks a lot like Google Now, or the evolved Google Search pages you get that serve up information cards based on your interests and so on.
According to Injong Rhee, executive VP and head of R&D software and services at Samsung “Bixby will be gradually applied to all appliances. In the future you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby.” Rhee goes on to say that because Bixby is a cloud service, all you need is an internet connection and a mic and Bixby could be set to task.
Few Samsung’s 2017 televisions also offer full voice control. Samsung could include technology that will allow you to process payments through voice commands. The feature is supposedly being developed under the name Bixby Pay, but there’s no confirmation of this yet.
Samsung has confirmed that Bixby is having support for Korean and US English, although it claims that Bixby is in all devices – it just might not work if you’re device is set to a different language. Samsung has said that support for British English for the UK and other languages for Europe, but there’s no word on when that might happen or what languages will be supported.
Bixby is not yet available at Australia. It needs to be localised for Australian services but you’ll still be able to use Bixby’s home screen as an activity tracker, personal reminder and recommendation service.
There’s no word on whether Samsung will enable Bixby on Galaxy S7 or the Gear S3 for example, but as Samsung has confirmed that all you need is an internet connection and a microphone, it seems likely that Samsung will enable it for other devices as well.