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Samsung Announces Bixby, the Galaxy S8 Virtual Assistant They are Betting Big On

This morning, Samsung kicked off the new week by announcing Bixby, the virtual assistant and interface that will be a big part of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Not only that, but Samsung has “thousands” of software developers working on making Bixby a core piece of their brand going forward, which means it’ll be more than a phone assistant. In time, you’ll be able to control almost all of your Samsung devices through Bixby, including appliances.

Here’s what we know about Bixby so far. 

For months, we had heard about Bixby, the supposed virtual assistant set to arrive with the new Galaxy line-up. Up until today, though, we’ve known very little outside of the name, a general idea of some of the things it’ll do, and that we should be able to launch it with a dedicated button on the side of each phone. Through a post to Samsung’s own blog, EVP and head of R&D at Samsung, Injong Rhee, walked us through the general concept of Bixby, while also providing some context around using Bixby on Samsung devices.

For one, Samsung wants you to believe that Bixby is more than just another virtual assistant. Rather than another option that requires you to learn dozens of new specific commands, Bixby will learn to adapt to you and I as we use it in a natural way (Everyone says that about their assistants these days, by the way.) In Samsung’s own words, they have “employed artificial intelligence, reinforcing deep learning concepts to the core of our user interface designs,” leading to Bixby.

What does that mean? A few things.

For one, Bixby will work with applications, but they’ll have to be “Bixby-enabled.” That’s right, this new tech isn’t going to just work everywhere. In fact, on the Galaxy S8, Samsung has already said that only a “subset of preinstalled applications” will be Bixby-enabled on the Galaxy S8. We’re more than likely just talking about the stock Samsung apps here, like phone, messaging, email, calendar, etc. We could certainly see that Samsung has worked with some 3rd party groups to show off the potential, as well. Either way, this is going to be a slow buildout of Bixby-enabling and will probably take years to be fully realized. Keep that in mind for a while. At some point Samsung will release an SDK to let developers get in on the Bixby action, but that time is not now, apparently.

What can Bixby do within an application? Samsung says that when an app is Bixby-enabled, Bixby “will be able to support almost every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface.” In other words, anything you could do by touching the app, you should be able to do with your voice or Bixby. Bixby will be available at all times within an enabled app, while allowing “users to weave various modes of interactions including touch or voice at any context of the application, whichever they feel is most comfortable and intuitive.” Samsung also thinks that Bixby won’t be so intimidating to use, as it’ll work through partial commands and won’t hold users to such specific standards, like other assistants.

How will you launch Bixby? Samsung’s post today doesn’t specifically state that you’ll be able to bring up Bixby initially by voice, but they have confirmed that a dedicated button will launch the virtual interface. So in all of those leaked photos you saw that revealed an extra button on the Galaxy S8, we now know for sure that that will be held in place for Bixby. Tap the button, speak a command, and let Bixby do the hard-lifting is the thought here.

To recap, Bixby is coming on the Galaxy S8 in limited form through a handful of preinstalled Bixby-enabled apps. Samsung will continue working to make Bixby the assistant of the future across all sorts of their hardware offerings (including appliances) and will eventually release an SDK to make it easier for developers to add Bixby to their own services.

This sound like the assistant you were waiting for?

Via: Samsung
  • John Doe

    I’m a big fan of Samsung devices, but a dedicated button on the side of a beautiful piece of hardware? And hey, I’m sorry but having used their phones for years never felt like led to use the Samsung software preloaded on the phone,and have instead used gmail, google calendar, Google Messenger, etc. These are the primary tools that Bixby is supposed to be used for and everything sounds Assistant – capable (if not with the others as well). I need to see how it works with other 3rd party apps (Evernote would be extremely interesting).

    Bixby should have been an internal button. Galaxy S7 is working for me.

  • YuCMi

    “Bixby-enabled.”

    Oh, so basically it’s DOA. I don’t see why devs would support such a feature when 1) it’s limited to one handset and 2) Google Assistant is on more devices. I definitely do not see Bixby being better than Google Assistant or Alexa. I curiously wonder how Bixby will exist alongside Google Assistant on the S8…

  • Joey Sandoval

    Too bad there’s anti trust laws. I would love to see a collab phone from Google, Samsung and apple. All three are getting to be exceptional and the lines between the os’ are really beginning to be blurred for the new consumer. It’s like choosing a phone without any real knowledge of what makes the either phone right for them. Especially in 2017 onwards with these seemingly bezelless screens.

  • fgonzo98

    Are people really using SIRI, Google Assistant and any other variant of voice activated commands? I’ve yet to have one work well or even be faster than touching the screen. And there is nothing more annoying than someone in public talking (usually shouting) at their phone. I hate to poo poo the “future” but it seems like a waste of memory space to me…

    • TC Infantino

      I use Google Now/Assistant all the time. I use it to find information, to set alarms, schedule calendar events, to take memos and set reminders. It really is much easier than opening apps and then typing in all the information.

  • Stephen Lucas

    I hope Mario Run and other games don’t build in support for it, a new age of morons will emerge in a public place near you.

  • rodney11ride

    what is this Tremors?

  • roebling

    They’re calling it Bixby ’cause it’s nice and pleasant until… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/40910bc0b7a638de1cbd7450a184fb803c8b168acab9df402836b963192fdfae.jpg

  • atc-tech

    “Samsung’s post today doesn’t specifically state that you’ll be able to bring up Bixby initially by voice,” – from the article.

    LOL! So to launch your super awesome voice activated thingy that makes it where I don’t have to touch my phone, I need to pick up my phone and press a button? BRILLIANT!

  • Having to manually launch Bixby with a physical button seems counterintuitive. One of the main selling points of these virtual assistants is the ability to interact with them hands free. If I have to go in my pocket to get my phone, to hit a button, to turn on my lights why not just flick the switch? But we shall see how this implementation goes.

  • DanSan

    “but they have confirmed that a dedicated button will launch the virtual interface. So in all of those leaked photos you saw that revealed an extra button on the Galaxy S8, we now know for sure that that will be held in place for Bixby. Tap the button, speak a command, and let Bixby do the hard-lifting is the thought here.”

    https://media.giphy.com/media/afVwAjxEfqofu/giphy.gif

  • mcdonsco

    “Here’s what we know about Bixby so far”

    It will fail

  • Defenestratus

    The ability for this to be disabled and replace by Assistant will determine whether or not I purchase the S8+ or not.

  • Toukale

    I understand Samsung dilemma, like the carriers do not want to be dumb pipes, Samsung do not want to be just another hardware box shipper. The problem is, Google has all the stuff (services) of value and they are all free (minus the privacy) of costs to the users. Google services are way better while Samsung services tends to suck. Besides, Google has all the leverage, with Google Play, there will be no answer from Samsung for that one, it’s simply too late, so they are tied to Google whether they like it or not.

    • GrowinUpISHARD

      I don’t know man, Google Assistant is garbage, Android Pay is garbage, other then that I don’t use any other Google service except Gmail and Maps.

      Samsung Pay is already better then Android Pay. Hopefully, Bixbi can be better then Assistant. That would be fun.

      • TylerCameron

        The only reason Samsung Pay is better is because of the occasional deal and because Samsung is the only company that puts the magnetic strip mimicker hardware in their phones.

      • YuCMi

        Google Assistant is garbage in comparison to what exactly? As for NFC payment apps, let’s be honest, the majority of people don’t use them and there’s not that much to even distinguish them from one another.

  • IamBuiltforSin

    How many assistants do we need? I wouldn’t mind if we had the ability to customize the name or hotword to initiate these assistants. That way whether using your phone, pc, gaming console, home device, or TV you could utilize one hotword.

    • YuCMi

      More assistants = more competition = faster development. I actually want to see Bixby give Google Assistant a run for its money, but I highly doubt that will happen.

  • mickeyB88

    I feel like this is going to cause app developers to start talking about a Voice Assistant Framework type thing if everyone wants to make their own. Right now there’s Alexa, Cortana, Siri (iPhone only, but still app development needs to happen), Google Assistant, and now Bixby. This sounds like a pain in the butt to have to develop crap for all of them.

    Although that framework may already exist and I just don’t know about it.

    Edit: Also HTC’s voice assistant.

  • MI95SHO

    Hopefully this gives google a kick in the rear to start focusing on their assistant.

    • Murphy’s Magnet

      Or create another one so they are like messaging apps.

      • MI95SHO

        We sure could use another one of those!

        • Murphy’s Magnet

          I hope to have a phone with nothing but Google messaging apps one day. 57 apps that all do kinda the same thing, but all working differently.

  • DavidB23

    If you cant disable Bixby and replace it with Google Assistant, I will not even entertain the S8. I’ll wait for the Pixel 2. There has not been a single case where samsung software which replaces a google sw feature is even close to being as good. Note Svoice – Terrible. If Bixby cant be disabled or turned off; showstopper. Bixby will be terrible.

    • YuCMi

      Samsung obviously can’t kick Google Assistant off their phone, so they need some way to one-up Assistant. Therefore: permanent Bixby button.

  • T4rd

    Samsung is probably shooting themselves in the foot here, esp. if they somehow block you from using Google Assistant or make it hard to switch. I see this being a potential deal breaker for a lot of customers. But if they’re smart, they’ll give you the option of using Assistant still with full functionality (voice activated while screen is off).

    They have a lot of ground to make up to Assistant and Siri though. I see this as being another S-Voice fail, but it’s hard to not be pessimistic when they’re already so far behind the other “assistants”.

    • Murphy’s Magnet

      Just like S Voice and Google Now. Just disable what you don’t want.

    • johnnydesinger

      I disagree. Shooting yourself in the foot implies they are hurting themselves. When obviously, they haven’t been hurt.

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are a lot of places where Google services is either blocked (China) or just not popular (many 3rd world countries).

      Especially services like Google Assistant and Android Pay.

      Samsung Pay is already better then Android Pay. So it just makes more sense to go after the Assistant.

      • T4rd

        They haven’t launched the phone/assistant yet, so obviously they haven’t hurt themselves yet. We’ll see after we learned more about it and it’s actually available.

        I have no “bubble” to burst, but thanks for your concern about my hypothetical “bubble”.

  • illregal

    so frickin stupid. Feel sorry for all the losers using samsung phones

    • Drew

      Lol because they have choice?

    • Murphy’s Magnet

      Why? Because they now have 2 options to choose from?

      Poor them/us. Choices suck. /S

      • illregal

        Yes, great.. Choices. Except one you didn’t ask for and it contributes to the lag your phone has. Again, guess samsung users will be used to it.

        • Murphy’s Magnet

          And Google gave people choice with Google Assistant? It was pushed to phones regardless of people asking for it. At least with this Samsung will advertise it and people will be aware that it is there.

          You also have no idea if it will cause or contribute to lag.

          • illregal

            You can not have google search installed.. Then you dont have assistant.
            I think you give people to much credit.
            Well, there’s no doubt that touchjiz already has lag. So adding an always listening, ai, vitrual assitant to the already lag riddled skin will surely introduce more. For anyone saying, my samsung doesn’t lag, go use something else for 3 days. it does, it’s a fact.

        • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

          Contributes to lag on your phone? Dude what are you even talking about?

        • trevorsalienarms

          Oh look, its the lag guy.

        • PoisonApple31

          That’s why “intelligent” people like you don’t buy Samsung phones – so why don’t you chat with our “intelligent” people like yourself on a Non-Samsung article. After all, we are beneath you.

          • illregal

            This is why.. you samsung pawns are so easy to get all butthurt. And they even pay most of you. Fact of the matter is out of 1500 phones, 120 being samsungs. Those 120 have more issues then the remaining 1380. Not only do they all have software issues, but the hardware failures are also over twice as rampant. It’s not that you’re beneath, its that you should all wise up and stop feeding the juggernaut.

    • D in B

      thirsty much? did samsung bang your mom or something? such trolling hate you have.

      • illregal

        it aint trolling when its the truth.

  • Me

    Meh. Only time will tell

  • Murphy’s Magnet

    I’ve seen a couple of articles talking about this being added to their TVs and appliances too. If the assistant works well we will probably be seeing a Samsung echo/home type product in the not too distant future.

  • Get Off My Lawn

    No.

  • litobirdy

    why does Samsung feel the need to pretty much try to take over the Android Ecosystem, Their own versions of everything google does. And I have a feeling they will take over because to the everyday regular consumer, it’s only Iphone and Galaxy hardware out there.

    • Mike

      It’s more so that they have a plan B if something were to ever go awry between them and Google.

      It’s actually pretty smart considering they have the resources to develop these things. Most other OEMs would be dead when it comes to mobile OS’ while Samsung would still have a chance without having to wait long before pushing new devices out.

      • litobirdy

        Yea that does make sense, If you have the resources to come up with your own version of stuff, Why not. and then back up plan too

        • DavidB23

          Because they do a terrible job at it. Svoice, Milk, …. all terrible. Both have perfectly good google versions that are Much better. Bixby will be the same; a real weak version of google assistant. Samsung database can not come close to what google database can do.

          • Murphy’s Magnet

            You know it isn’t designed to replace or be like Google Assistant, right? It is designed to work with apps.

          • Trikkk

            Yeah that’s what they said about Samsung vs Sony during the TV wars. Look what happened. The thing about Samsung is they will keep working on it till they get it right and take over the market share.

          • illregal

            they will keep bribing their way into your lives, and out of legal trouble.

          • seattle tech

            Milk Music was great just was too late in the game. Svoice was patchwork and they never evolved it. Samsung internet and email is great.

      • MI95SHO

        I would say it s a good Plan B strategy, but how much force they put on using their mediocre softwares exclusively leaves me to believe otherwise

    • Murphy’s Magnet

      You also have to remember that this started when only the Pixel phones were going to get Google Assistant. They weren’t about to be left behind by the iPhone and Pixel.

      • litobirdy

        that’s what I mean, they reallllly want to be that 3rd company, Apple, Android, Samsung in the mobile eocsystem etc…

        • Murphy’s Magnet

          Well, for a long time now Samsung has been the face of Android in many ways. They are ones that market and advertise where most other oems don’t much effort behind it. To most if the world there are 2 major phones conpanies, Apple and Samsung.

          Either way, if you were an Android OEM and you were told that you were being left out in the digital assistant world, what would you do? I can totally understand them saying, “Hell no!” And making their own

          • TylerCameron

            Google Now has worked fine as a digital assistant for years.

    • Drew

      Why do some people want Google and only Google? A lot of Google services aren’t very good so why wouldn’t you want choice?

      • TylerCameron

        All of Samsung’s apps don’t do anything better than Google’s apps, cost money to develop, and thus, they pass those costs onto us. Nobody likes S Voice, nobody bought into Milk Music, the only thing the Galaxy App store is good for is themes. Actually, Samsung Pay is the one app that is superior to Google’s, and that’s largely because Samsung has the magnetic strip hardware.

        • Drew

          I’m not talking just Samsung apps though.

    • Seb

      BIXBY is NOT trying to replace google now/assistant or even cortana or alexa. They are focusing on interfacing with the phones function NOT on being a knowledge database you ask questions to. And, IMO, when integrated properly BIXBY will be able to do much more than assistant can (on samsung phones). When I say do more I don’t mean it will be smarter than assistant or know more about “restaurants or movies or sports” I mean doing more of the things you do on a day to day basis on your phone. They want to allow users to do almost everything they do by touching the screen using voice commands.

    • phillyundead

      Maybe because the. Do it all stop much better. Google apps suck. Google assistant has made me stop using the Google app entirely. Voice commands are the worst unless you’re old.

    • seattle tech

      Why do people always think that Google is the only one allowed to own all the new business markets?

      • YuCMi

        Because at least Google hasn’t had their leader(s) indicted on bribery charges. Google is the only company I feel like I’d be able to trust, and I think that’s a sentiment many people share. Therefore, it’s not a stretch to imagine that people would be okay with a Google monopoly on new tech markets. But hey, those are just my thoughts.

        • seattle tech

          You must be young and it is funny that you are pro monopoly. Bribing is done in every country. In america it’s called pay to play or the clinton foundation

          • YuCMi

            I’m not pro monopoly, Google is just an exception since they produce great free products and I don’t see them using anti-competitive practices. Sure you can try throwing a blanket over everything with “Bribing is done in every country,” but that’s unfair to say of every company when not all have been found bribing. That’s stereotyping.

          • seattle tech

            Those “free” products are in exchange for massive personal information. Bribing is done in various countries but it is legal. Also you should read up that google has so much power that it is censoring the internet now with views that don’t align with its own. That is what you get when you want to “trust” all the power to one company

  • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    kind of interested in how smart this is. if they are dedicating a button to it, its gotta be good, right? not that i’ll buy one….just curious to see what the response by others will be.

    • litobirdy

      Holy Cow, Howard Stern Visits Droid-life? Massive!!

    • DavidB23

      It will be terrible; like all other samsung software that tries to duplicate a perfectly good google version

      • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        u misunderstand my point. if its decent, others will jump in the game and AI support will be boosted. competition is key.

        • Jason Connors

          I think this is going to cause a massive boom and beginning of the “Everything AI & Voice Command train.”

          • GatoPardo

            Hi Jason, can you send me your email, I saw your comment on the Nintendo Nes Classic

    • schwartzman93

      “not that I’ll buy one” I think you missed him saying that. I’m actually curious to see how it is as well. Not a fan of other Samsung software, but Samsung pay really caught my attention, so maybe this will be another good one coming from them.