Bixby is Samsung's new 'intelligent interface' for smartphones and beyond

Pablo Tucker
March 20, 2017

Bixby is another voice-based personal assistant, but Samsung is taking that idea to the next level.

Samsung has confirmed its much-rumoured artificial intelligence system, a voice assistant called Bixby, will be introduced when it unveils the Galaxy S8 smartphone later this month. "[It should] support nearly every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface (ie. touch commands)", says the post.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 series phones will have a dedicated Bixby button on the side of the phone for easy access. Samsung isn't providing specifics on how exactly it will work on the phone, but in a blog post announcing the service, it says, "When using a Bixby-enabled application, users will be able to call upon Bixby at any time and it will understand the current context and state of the application and will allow users to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously".

Samsung had been teasing its Bixby virtual assistant for quite some time, and today the company finally brought it out of the veil. "The button will be used for Bixby in the long run", an official from a local telecom carrier was quoted as saying.

Samsung also promised eventually to add the artificially-intelligent helper to all of its appliances, from air conditioners to refrigerators. A less charitable interpretation might be that Bixby exists to solve one of the most hard challenges in all of tech: make Samsung's own poorly designed software and interfaces easier to use. Samsung has integrated app controlling voice commands into the virtual assistant that make it more useful for the Galaxy smartphone. However, Samsung has plans to release an SDK soon, allowing third-party developers to also weave in Bixby support into their own apps.

What do you think of Bixby? Bixby can then prompt the user to provide additional information, which can lead to a more natural way of interacting with the AI and perform the task "in piecemeal". "It will simplify user education with new voice interfaces and will make using your phone even more seamless and intuitive", the firm said.

If you're familiar with Samsung's underwhelming S Voice interface, you may be less than enthused about a new virtual assistant from the Korean technology giant. In fact, on the Galaxy S8, Samsung has already said that only a "subset of preinstalled applications" will be Bixby-enabled on the Galaxy S8.

The Galaxy S8 will have a dedicated Bixby button.

The report added a software upgrade to support Bixby could be announced within the first half of this year. For example, very few apps added features for Samsung's curved "edge" screens and Apple is still struggling to get developers to adopt the 3D Touch pressure-sensitive screen on newer iPhone models. 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.

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