Samsung Launches Bixby, Its Answer To Siri & Alexa

In plainer English, it sounds like you could, for example, ask Bixby to open a restaurant reservation app, then use the touchscreen yourself to whittle down your options before asking Bixby to place the reservation for you.

For now, Samsung has not revealed what is powering the Bixby assistant.

While virtual assistants like Cortana and Siri can give users somewhat limited access to first- and third-party apps, Bixby has the potential to provide users with complete voice control over nearly any feature within a given app.

And that's what Bixby looks like right now - a bargaining chip in the game of big-brand brinksmanship, one that will enable Samsung to strike a better deal during the next round of partnership negotiations.

Dr. Injong Rhee, Samsung's head of research and development for software and services. Rhee indicated the interface will "gradually" be incorporated into the company's appliances as well. In other words, Samsung aims to offer an alternative to the device's main UI, which can be complex and arcane, and not just a glorified search engine that returns facts based on precise questions.

Talking to The Verge, Rhee said Bixby is an "intelligent user interface, emphasis on interface". Samsung chose to focus on completeness, context awareness and cognitive tolerance. While getting work done, users can use either voice or touch to utilize Bixby's features, without having to start a task over again.

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Samsung knows it can't compete with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others when it comes to raw machine learning power and putting vast amounts of information at your fingertips, so it's using Bixby to solve a simpler task that those companies have largely ignored. 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.

"Bixby is going to be playing catch up", Goertz said. According to the release, there are three distinct areas where Bixby shines: Completeness, context awareness, and cognitive tolerance. Samsung created the version of Bixby it's launching later this month in-house, however. Under the leadership of Rhee, the company is expanding in software and services, where is has always been perceived as behind rival tech giants.

Smartphones are becoming too complicated for their own good, so Samsung wants to change them fundamentally with the launch of Bixby, its long-rumored digital assistant. Third-party apps will get supported later this year by way of an SDK for developers, but of course that's up to developers to support or not. If there's a bull case to be made that Bixby will be successful, Viv will be central to it.

Samsung said Bixby will focus on letting people control mobile apps with spoken directives.

This seems reminiscent of a time a few years ago when Samsung was putting significant weight behind its own services: Samsung Music, Samsung Video and its own apps portal, along with a competitor OS to Android in the shape of Tizen, which threatened the dominance of Google's platform. It will be integrated with the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 flagship lineup but it won't be limited to the said product.

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