Although the Unpacked 2017 event is just 9 days away, Samsung couldn't wait any longer and announced one of the key features of the Galaxy S8 - its AI voice assistant, Bixby.
Touted as a new intelligent interface which is fundamentally different from existing voice agents or assistants, Bixby will debut on the Galaxy S8 later this month and support a subset of preinstalled apps. Samsung states that a SDK will eventually be released to enable third party developers to make their apps and services Bixby-enabled easily.
As the set of apps expand overtime, Bixby will gradually find its way into other Samsung appliances such as the air-con and TV. It's also a cloud-based service, which requires devices to have an Internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs. Samsung highlights three key strengths of Bixby which are completeness, context awareness and cognitive tolerance.
Unlike its counterparts which have limited functionality within certain apps and hence confuse users on what they can do or not do, Bixby is able to execute almost any task that an app is capable of performing via touch input. The completeness feature of Bixby will make it easy for the user to understand its capabilities.
Compared to existing voice agents which restrict the interaction methods, Bixby has context awareness which allows the user to activate it any time without interrupting the current workflow and present several modes of interactions which it feels to be more comfortable according to situations.
Instead of using a fixed list of commands, Bixby is intelligent enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge, and prompts the user to provide more information to complete the task. To ease the learning curve, a dedicated Bixby button will be located on the Galaxy S8 which allows the user to easily press and give voice commands. This cognitive tolerance is what makes the interface more natural and user friendly.
Samsung believes Bixby is the core of the software and services evolution at the company. It has thousands of software developers supporting the platform and the continued investment will bring an endless list of possibilities of what Bixby can evolve into.