As each of those products has matured, the overlap and differences between them become clearer, and Bixby looks to be taking a different tack again. While Google, Apple and Microsoft focus on making their assistants able to perform (mostly) retrieval-based tasks ('what will the weather be like tomorrow?'), Bixby is looking to be more of a platform with an extensible eco-system, a little closer to Amazon's Alexa.
Samsung, however, has a whole range of different devices to support - phones, computers, home appliances, smart devices and more - so it is focusing on making all those disparate devices easy to use via voice commands, which it says will make Bixby fundamentally different to current voice assistants.
The aim of Bixby, Samsung says, is to make all devices and apps seamlessly interoperable via either voice or touch, while delivering contextually relevant features depending on the device and what the user is trying to achieve. In future, Samsung says it wants Bixby to be able to understand incomplete commands and pieces of information too, reducing the need for the user to say any particular phrase or command to achieve an operation.
Bixby on the Galaxy S8
Perhaps more interestingly is the desire from Samsung to "reduce friction" associated with getting used to a new voice command system. As part of that, it confirmed that its next device will have a dedicated Bixby button on the side.
"Confusion around activating a voice interface is a barrier we have removed to make it feel easier and more comfortable to give commands. For example, instead of taking multiple steps to make a call – turning on and unlocking the phone, looking for the phone application, clicking on the contact bar to search for the person that you’re trying to call and pressing the phone icon to start dialing – you will be able to do all these steps with one push of the Bixby button and a simple command," Samsung said.
Don't get your hopes up too high for Bixby's launch day skills, however, as Samsung says that, to begin with, only a "subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled", but that those abilities will expand over time. Ultimately, an SDK will be made available for third-party developers too, allowing for other apps to become Bixby-enabled.
As Bixby runs in the cloud, rather than on any particular device, all that's really required is an internet connection.
This is likely to be a key part of the success of the Bixby assistant - if Samsung convinces developers and device makers that integrating its voice control system is worthwhile, the eco-system of Bixby-enabled devices will grow an awful lot faster.
What do you want Bixby to do? Do you like the idea of a dedicated button? Let us know in the comments below.