Samsung officially announces Bixby, the virtual assistant arriving with the Galaxy S8

We’ve all known Samsung was planning to be the next name after Apple, Google and Microsoft to have its own virtual assistant. Well, we can now officially put Samsung on the list. The company took to its own blog to officially announce Bixby, the virtual assistant that will be a core feature on the upcoming Galaxy S8. However, Samsung has taken a slightly different approach to the mainstream digital assistants, or agents as the Korean giant likes to call them. Bixby will not be telling you the weather, or when your package is arriving. 

“Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but as the capabilities of machines such as smartphones, PCs, home appliances and IoT devices become more diverse, the interfaces on these devices are becoming too complicated for users to take advantage of these many functions conveniently,” InJong Rhee, executive vice president, head of R&D software and services at Samsung said in a blog post.

“Samsung has a conceptually new philosophy to target this problem: instead of humans learning how a machine interacts with the world, it is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us.”

Now when have we heard that before? Oh, virtually every announcement of a new AI assistant. 

Instead of being an online database that you can access via voice commands, to get answers or to perform specific tasks, Bixby will be there to just help you in doing the countless number of things that you can do  on your smartphone today. Bixby aims to help you perform all the things you can do with touch inputs on your smartphone. This is something other voice assistants aim towards as well but they’re not focused on that aspect alone.

Moreover, instead of making you learn a new set of commands, like you would have to when you switch your voice assistant, Bixby aims to learn from you, says the company.  Samsung makes the point that most existing AI assistants support a limited number of selected tasks for each application.

“The completeness property of Bixby will simplify user education on the capability of the agent, making the behaviours of the agent much more predictable.”

Bixby’s initial capabilities will be limited to only a number of Samsung apps such as the dialer, email, etc. but more apps will be added in the future. Bixby will initially be only limited to only English and Korean but Samsung says support for more languages will soon arrive.

“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.”

From that quote, it seems something like how Google Assistant works. From what I understand though, Bixby will be focusing more on what’s inside your smartphone unlike other assistants whose focus is mainly outside your smartphones, in the cloud. For instance, you won’t be invoking Bixby when you want to know how hot it is outside, or who won the match last night. You will however be able to send an email from your phone without even touching your screen once to switch apps or typing in contact info. At least in theory. It’s hard to say anything for sure until Bixby is out in the real world.

Samsung’s virtual assistant will arrive later this month or the next with the Galaxy S8, which will feature an extra button dedicated to Bixby. Samsung did not talk about whether Bixby can be called via a voice command or not but we can assume it probably can be. It quite defeats the purpose of a voice assistant if it can’t be accessed by voice.

Source : Samsung

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