Samsung Reveals the new Bixby Virtual Assistant from the upcoming Galaxy S8
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are scheduled to be announced on March 29th, and you know the world will be watching. The star of the show will be the two new devices in all of their minimal-bezel glory and the slew of new hardware and software features they will be packing.
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will also be sporting the Bixby virtual assistant, which is Samsung’s response to Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant. The contribution of Bixby in the feature set is high enough to warrant its own dedicated key on the new flagships, so it makes sense for Samsung to unveil Bixby before the devices hog the limelight.
The Bixby Virtual Assistant is the result of Samsung’s efforts to employ artificial intelligence to the core of its user interface designs. Samsung claims that Bixby is “fundamentally different” from other voice agents or assistants in the market based on three of its key features:
As Samsung details, when an application becomes Bixby-enabled, Bixby will be able to support almost every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional touch interface. This acts as a differentiating agent in the favor of Bixby as most existing assistants only support a few selected tasks for applications, and end up confusing users on what is supported and what is not. Bixby will thus be more predictable on its usefulness.
Bixby will also be context-aware, which it needs to be to compete against the current crop of virtual assistants like Google Assistant. Whenever Bixby is called upon, Samsung claims that it will understand the current context and state of the application and will allow the user to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously instead of restarting the workflow. This will let users switch between modes of interactions (voice and touch) seamlessly, opting for what is the most convenient in their situation at that time.
The last key feature of Bixby will be its tolerance. Instead of stating exact commands in their complete and fixed form, Bixby users can throw incomplete commands at Bixby which will try and do them to the best of its capabilities, and then prompt the user for more information. Samsung claims this will make the interactions much more natural and easier to use.
Samsung is employing Bixby to push towards a more seamless experience (which also seems like their overall goal with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus). The dedicated Bixby button on the device will take away a lot of steps involved in common tasks and replace them with voice commands and a single push of the button.
With the launch of the Galaxy S8, a subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled. Samsung says this suite of Bixby-enabled applications will expand over time, and the eventual plan is to release an SDK to enable third-party developers to make their applications and services Bixby-enabled. In our opinion, the lack of SDK at launch does affect the ‘completeness’ feature of Bixby, as while you would know which commands will work in an app, you would not know which apps do support Bixby.
Bixby will also be gradually applied to all of Samsung’s appliances, which should be the most amazing aspect of this virtual assistant considering Samsung’s enormous appliance portfolio. As Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, appliances would only need an Internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice input. Bixby would be in a better position to be the virtual assistant of choice if this vision from Samsung materializes with its promised capability.
We should be privy to more information on Bixby as well as some lives demos when the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus launch on March 29th.
What are your thoughts on the Bixby virtual assistant so far? Let us know in the comments below!