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Samsung details its Bixby voice assistant that lives in the cloud

Samsung has officially thrown its metaphorical hat into the virtual assistant fray with Bixby, its answer to Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple's smart assistants. 

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

The Bixby button is a good idea
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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. 

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  • So if I want to call Adam, instead of pushing 3 buttons, I have to push button, swipe to enable Data and then press the extra button and say: "Bixby, call Adam"? lol Who came out with this name I still cant remember. Why not 'Genie'..pops out an fulfill your wishes. Yea, I'l buy S8 but I don't think I'll be using bixby! brrr

  • ljhaye 1 week ago Link to comment

    How is this a good thing for Android? It causes further confusion and fragmentation within Android. An example of this is Samsung Pay vs Android Pay. Google needs to close Android and let Samsung push ahead on its own, with Tizen. Most Android users are more loyal to Samsung hardware than android software ( ex. Gear S2/3 vs Android wear). Once we see how competent each of these companies truly are independent of each other, I bet all the negative iPhone/Apple rhetoric will evaporate.

    • Well I don't think people will stay with samsung if they don't have Android devices, they will be left out of the Google play store and what will they have the galaxy store or tizen store? You will not have customizability for your device no Nova launcher for example, it will basically be a iphone that what you get from the factory is what you will be stuck with in my opinion.

      • ljhaye 1 week ago Link to comment

        I used to agree with that sentiment prior to the success of both Samsung Tizen Gear Watches an Samsung Pay. These two examples are being used by many in the Android community even without the ownership of a Samsung phone. A matter of fact they have hire adoption rates than Googles equivalent products. I think Bixby could spell the doom of Google Assistant on Android devices unless Google can improve its distribution channels.

      • Indeed but those are devices that are separate and not a mobile device that use apps from the play store. What I'm trying to say is I don't use the Nova app for example on my smart watch, and I doubt that tizen will allow such customizebility to allow 3rd party apps to customize your mobile device like Nova for example or it will take a while. You don't play games on your smart watch, games that are freely available in the google play store, thus on a smart watch it will be ok to use another OS to connect to your Android device, but if you don't have Android on your mobile then you will find it hard as tizen don't give you the options Android and Google does at this stage on a mobile device.

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