Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

Galaxy S8's Bixby Now Official: Here's What It Does

Galaxy S8's Bixby Now Official: Here's What It Does

The South Korean smartphone manufacturer has some seriously high hopes of its virtual agent.

The principle behind Bixby appears to be that phones have grown too complicated to use, therefore you need a more natural way to interact with the technology.

However, it seems applying artificial intelligence (AI) from Viv - founded Dag Kittlaus who co-founded Siri - will come in a latter iteration. It's not hugely different from Google's efforts with Now on Tap, but Samsung argues that its deeper integration of Bixby within apps will make it more useful and more reliable than prior efforts. "Having a button solves a lot of problems for us", says Rhee, noting that it can take care of both launching the assistant and biometrically authenticating the user at the same time, should Samsung decide to combine a fingerprint scanner with it.

Bixby is not Alexa, or Siri. It's truly meant to replace text or touch-based input completely, for every app - eventually.

We'll find out just how good Bixby's first impressions are in a matter of weeks when the Galaxy S8 debuts. This, Samsung believes, will "allow users to weave various modes of interactions including touch or voice at any context of the application, whichever they feel is most comfortable and intuitive".

"Completeness" can be viewed as the part of the program created to extend the functionality of Bixby to other applications. However, the company claims that Bixby is "fundamentally different" from other voice assistants available today because of three cornerstone properties called "Completeness", "Context Awareness" and "Cognitive Tolerance". Apple and Google have shortcuts activated by long press actions, but Samsung will be the first with a dedicated key for its assistant.

Next up is the fact that you won't have to rote learn commands. While Samsung's ambition with Bixby is commendable and exciting, its late entry could be a huge disadvantage.

Samsung also talked about the Galaxy S8's dedicated Bixby button, which the company claims will allow you to instantly perform voice commands without unlocking the phone and manually opening apps. For example, you can prompt Bixby to not only remind you to do something, but you can request Bixby to remind you to do something through a specific app, at a specific time, and then even immediately share that reminder with someone else, all without actually touching the phone.

The company has grand plans for the interface as well and plans to expand its range of offerings to include other devices as well. Well, the company says it has "thousands of software developers" working on Bixby for devices ranging from smartphones, televisions, and even air conditioners. The AI assistant will be added to the cloud so that devices with the internet connection could perform voice commands. So in all of those leaked photos you saw that revealed an extra button on the Galaxy S8, we now know for sure that that will be held in place for Bixby.

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