Samsung Galaxy S8 will have Bixby voice assistant

Alex Kidman 21 March 2017

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Samsung really wants you to converse with your phone, but that's only the start.

With the prevalence of voice assistants like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, you might think that there’s nothing new in the AI assistant space. Samsung is hoping this isn’t the case, as it pre-announces the new voice assistant that will come with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+ smartphones.

Known as "Bixby" (which sounds suspiciously like the mid-80s TV adventures of a detective dog), Samsung claims that the AI will be "fundamentally different from other voice agents or assistants on the market".

Part of that claim comes from the fact that Samsung intends Bixby to be fully integrated with any app that supports it. This is more than simple commands. According to Samsung, "Bixby will be able to support almost every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface."

Bixby will also be contextually aware and although we’ve seen that to a certain extent with Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant, Samsung claims it will shift this kind of awareness to include what it’s calling "Cognitive Tolerance". If you’ve ever had the annoying issue of even simple commands being misunderstood because your phone doesn’t quite catch all of the request, then Bixby might be able to come to the rescue.

Samsung claims it will be "smart enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge. It will then prompt users to provide more information and take the execution of the task in piecemeal."

Samsung states that at the launch of the Galaxy S8 "a subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled. This set will continue to expand over time. Our plan is to eventually release a tool (in SDK) to enable third-party developers to make their applications and services Bixby-enabled easily."

Samsung’s vision for Bixby is that it will be integrated into all of its devices, including home appliances. That’s a direct play into the Amazon Alexa market, although we’re yet to see Alexa in Australia as yet. That could be about to change with rumours suggesting that Amazon will launch down under by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Samsung will launch the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ next week, with expected market availability by late April. There's not that much more that we don't know about the new phones, including what they look like and roughly what they will cost.

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