Samsung has shed more light on its virtual personal assistant Bixby ahead of the March 29 launch of its flagship – and hopefully non-detonating – Galaxy S8 smartphone. The S8 will be a big user of Bixby.
Gadget makers have been trying to shove chatbots down our throats for years. It started with Apple’s Siri in 2011, Amazon's Alexa came out in 2014, Google followed suit with Assistant when it released its Pixel smartphone last year, and Samsung is now playing catch-up with Bixby.
“Bixby will be our first step on a journey to completely open up new ways of interacting with your phone,” gushed InJong Rhee, Samsung’s head of R&D software and services, on Monday.
“At the launch of the Galaxy S8, a subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled. This set will continue to expand over time. Our plan is to eventually release a tool – in an SDK – to enable third-party developers to make their applications and services Bixby-enabled easily."
By using Bixby, folks will no longer have to fiddle with touchscreens, and can cut straight to the chase with voice commands, Rhee said. In other words, forget navigating through touch-based user interfaces. So-called “Bixby-enabled” apps “will be able to support almost every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface (ie. touch commands),” Samsung claimed. These go beyond basic phone calls and web search, Rhee sniffed.
Samsung also claims its chatbot will be more robust: if you confuse it by not giving it enough information with your query, it will ask you for more context to execute that particular task – something the South Korea giant calls “cognitive tolerance.”
Using the touchscreen and voice to complete a single task at the same time will also be made easier, it is claimed, as opposed to today's assistants that require the user to put the device into a voice-command mode for the duration of the conversation.
If bots haven’t annoyed you enough – check out Google Home spewing unwanted audio ads – Samsung will also roll out Bixby in other home appliances like smart TVs, refrigerators or air conditioning.
“Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby,” Samsung promised.
Meanwhile, technical specs for the upcoming Galaxy S8 can be found here. ®