Samsung will soon debut its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8—and with it, a digital assistant named Bixby, CNET reports. Bixby is the latest smart assistant to join the ranks of Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa, as major tech companies continue to invest in artificial intelligence.
Galaxy S8 owners will communicate with Bixby by pressing a side button on the phone or by saying a word to wake it up. But instead of answering direct questions or commands, Siri-style, Bixby will allow users to voice-control the phone's apps (although it will be able to perform query searches). Typically, digital assistants try to execute a task from start to finish (and they often get confused midway). While using Bixby, users can jump in and take the wheel by switching between voice and touch commands seamlessly. As for voice orders, Bixby is designed to understand incomplete phrases—but if it needs help, the personal assistant will prompt users for more information before going ahead.
Samsung has big plans for Bixby, and smartphones are just the beginning, the company explained in a blog post. “Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances. In the future you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby,” Injong Rhee, Samsung's executive vice president, head of R&D, software and services, wrote. "As the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life.”
Samsung will officially introduce the Galaxy S8—and Bixby—on March 29. Initially, Bixby will be limited to just English and Korean, but other languages (like Chinese and Spanish) might be added in the near future.