Samsung officially announces Bixby, its new AI assistant
It feels weird reporting on some new information regarding the upcoming (and very, very leaky) Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ with the source actually being Samsung itself for once. And yet here we are – the Korean giant has just made its new AI assistant, Bixby, official, detailing some of its functionality ahead of the flagship pair's official reveal on March 29.
The announcement's timing is somewhat peculiar, though, as Bixby is supposed to be one of the biggest features of the S8 pair. However, the blog post itself states multiple times that the assistant will not be exclusive to the two new flagships, and the company hopes to eventually bring it to all of its Internet-connected devices:
Starting with our smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances. In the future you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby. Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby. As the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life.
Or in other words, Samsung wants to turn every 90's smart home fever dream into reality, which is... a generally terrible idea, we think. Here's hoping this doesn't turn into the plot of the Disney Channel original Smart House. Until then, however, Bixby will be heading to Samsung's new smartphones, and the company claims to have laid the groundwork for an AI experience people will actually use, according to the surprisingly little actual information shared in the otherwise lengthy press release.
The biggest chunk of the press release, however, is dedicated to the company's desire to make speaking to an AI assistant natural – that is, rather than have users conform to the assistant's limited command vocabulary, Bixby will try to understand what users are asking of it, even when they supply incomplete information. How it plans to do that isn't entirely clear, though – Samsung says Bixby "will prompt users to provide more information and take the execution of the task in piecemeal", but that, as far as we know, is the way pretty much every assistant works nowadays.
Samsung also sort of addresses concerns that it won't include Bixby in its new flagships at launch:
There has been a lot of excitement and speculation about what we will deliver with the launch of the Galaxy S8 later this month, especially due to the advancements in artificial intelligence. We do have a bold vision of revolutionizing the human-to-machine interface, but that vision won’t be realized overnight. Ambition takes time.
Okay? So does that mean that it won't be included in the S8, or simply that it would suck at launch? Who knows, really: further down, the press release reads: "At the launch of the Galaxy S8, a subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled," which doesn't exactly answer our question, but gives us hope it could be included at the S8's launch. Maybe.
Lastly, the company feels the need to present Bixby as spearheading the company's evolution as a software and services one. This is an interesting approach, especially considering that for most of its Android smartphones' existence, its custom software, perivously known as TouchWiz, has been the golden standard for bloatware among tech enthusiasts. Admittedly, the company has somewhat cleaned up its act with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, but it remains to be seen whether shoving a flashy virtual assistant into its flagships won't be seen as the company going back to its old tricks by consumers.
source: Samsung Newsroom
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