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First looks: Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ - To infinity and beyond!

By Zachary Chan - 19 Apr 2017

Bixby

Meet Samsung's new AI assistant - Bixby

With the Galaxy S8 series, Samsung enters the AI assistant fray with Bixby. Similar to Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa, Bixby is a built-in voice activated assistant that will help you perform searches, set reminders or dictate messages from your S8 device.

Bixby isn’t just a voice search engine, Samsung wants to create a complete AI ecosystem with your Galaxy smartphone at the center.

But there’s more. Besides voice, there’s also a built-in image recognition technology called Bixby Vision. You can take a picture to search for similar images, retrieve more information about a location or shop online for the pictured item with connected services.

As a personal assistant, Bixby will also have location awareness and will eventually learn your common habits and be able to offer personalized tasks, reminders and apps based on your routines.

Samsung has some pretty lofty goals for Bixby as we’re told that eventually, anything you can do with touch, should be replicate-able through voice as well. The Bixby experience should be a seamless one where you can switch between voice, tap and touch inputs. Of course, deeper app integration is required for Bixby to have more contextual awareness of app commands. At launch, most of the native Samsung apps on the S8 such as Camera, Contacts and Gallery have Bixby integration, as well as some popular third-party apps, with more on the way.

The Bixby Home screen acts as a hub to apps that already have Bixby integration.

A good way to check the current list of supported Bixby apps and if you’ve already got them installed.

You can enable to disable supported apps for Bixby to recommend you if you don’t wish to see it.

Bixby will also be the gateway for a complete Samsung connected-home ecosystem with the smartphone as a hub. This is similar to what Google Home and Amazon Echo is trying to achieve, but Samsung will have the upper hand in device integration since they practically make every other home appliance you can think of.

While this Bixby-enabled vision is still in a not-so-distant future, Samsung is already introducing a smart appliance hub app called Samsung Connect that can easily control and monitor all your connected Samsung devices, from smart TVs to fridges.

Samsung Connect is like a central remote to control all your Samsung smart apps such as TVs, fridges and robot vacuum cleaners.

Another noteworthy software update that comes with the S8 and S8+ is an enhanced Samsung Health app. Besides typical health and fitness tracking, Samsung Health now comes with integrated professional healthcare and e-medicine services. For example, you can connect with real doctors or book virtual appointments via video calls. At the moment however, this service is only available in the US.

An enhanced Samsung Health app comes with integrated tele-medicine features, but only available in the US for now.

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