After months of delays, Samsung Electronics Ltd’s smartphone voice assistant, Bixby, is finally available in more than 200 countries, including Canada, the U.K., and Australia.
Starting today, Galaxy S8 and S8+2 users can enable and use the voice assistant by either holding the dedicated button on the phones, or simply by saying “Hi, Bixby.”
“Now millions of customers worldwide have access to a new and intelligent way of interacting with their phone,” Injong Rhee, executive vice president and head of research and development, software and services of the mobile communications business at Samsung Electronics, said in an Aug. 22 press release. “The expansion of Bixby’s voice capabilities is an initial step in the continued rollout of Bixby functionality. In the future, Bixby will have the learning power to offer more intelligent and personalized interactions and seamless connections across more devices.”
The electronics giant had previously delivered Bixby to South Korean and U.S. users in July.
Unlike competitors Siri, who speaks 21 languages, and Microsoft’s Cortana, which speaks eight, Bixby is available in only two languages: U.S. English and Korean. (Google Assistant currently speaks five languages, and Amazon Alexa’s two as well – English and German.)
Instead, Samsung has chosen to differentiate Bixby’s “intelligent interface” from other voice assistants by emphasizing its understanding of the way English- and Korean-speaking users talk, ask questions, and make requests, and its compatibility across different applications. Developed with deep learning technology, Bixby is designed to improve over time by learning to recognize personal preferences and specific ways of speaking.
“For example, if you take a photo and then tell Bixby to ‘send the picture just taken to Mom,’ Bixby understand cross-application commands and will know which photo you are referring to and will text it to your mom,” Samsung says. “This natural language understanding makes interacting with your smartphone easier and more intuitive.”
It also comes with a quick commands feature, which allows users to “easily create custom voice commands to use in place of a sequence of one or more commands.” For example, Samsung points out, you can tell Bixby “good night” as a shortcut for “turn on do-not-disturb mode, set an alarm for 6:00 AM and turn on blue light filter.”
When an app is Bixby-enabled, the voice assistant will support “almost every task that the application is capable of performing using voice, touch or text.”
“Bixby’s deep integration is also built into the smartphone settings so that you can change phone options – such as setting the screen timeout or showing all notifications – without interrupting what you are currently doing,” the company adds.
Samsung is planning to continue expanding Bixby’s voice capabilities in other countries, languages, and devices with additional features and third-party apps.