Samsung on Monday officially announced Bixby, its new personal digital assistant based on AI technologies from Viv Labs, a startup by Siri co-founders Dag Kittalus and Adam Cheyer that the South Korean company acquired last year. According to InJong Rhee, Executive Vice President and head of R&D, Software and Services at Samsung, Bixby is about completeness, context awareness and cognitive tolerance, aside from other features.

The personal assistant should launch alongside Galaxy S8 and will be “fundamentally different” than Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and more.

At launch, only ten preinstalled apps will be Bixby-enabled.

Over time, additional apps will gain Bixby compatibility as Samsung eventually releases an official software development kit for third-party developers to make their apps and services Bixby-enabled easily.

Bixby will debut on Galaxy S8, but Samsung says the feature will be gradually applied to all its appliances in one form or another. “In the future, you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby,” wrote the company.

Like Siri, Bixby is a service that relies on the power of the cloud so network connectivity is required to interact with the assistant. The South Korean company is “fundamentally and conceptually” changing its attitude toward software and services.

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“Our investment in engineering resources speaks for itself—we have thousands of software developers supporting this effort,” Rhee said.

“A lot of other agents are focused on being knowledgeable, providing answers to fact-based questions, glorified extensions of search,” he additionally told The Verge. “Bixby is capable of developing a new interface to our devices, or devices that are going to host Bixby.”

Here’s Samsung’s description of key Bixby features:

  • Completeness—When an application becomes Bixby-enabled, Bixby will be able to support almost every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface (ie. touch commands). Most existing agents currently support only a few selected tasks for an application and therefore confuse users about what works or what doesn’t work by voice command. The completeness property of Bixby will simplify user education on the capability of the agent, making the behaviors of the agent much more predictable.
  • Context awareness—When using a Bixby-enabled application, users will be able to call upon Bixby at any time and it will understand the current context and state of the application and will allow users to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously. Bixby will allow users to weave various modes of interactions including touch or voice at any context of the application, whichever they feel is most comfortable and intuitive. Most existing agents completely dictate the interaction modality and, when switching among the modes, may either start the entire task over again, losing all the work in progress, or simply not understand the user’s intention.
  • Cognitive tolerance—When the number of supported voice commands gets larger, most users are cognitively challenged to remember the exact form of the voice commands. Most agents require users to state the exact commands in a set of fixed forms. Bixby will be smart enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge, and then will prompt users to provide more information and take the execution of the task in piecemeal. This makes the interface much more natural and easier to use.

Acknowledging that Bixby may take getting some time used to, Samsung opined that reduced friction and making the user experience significantly more rewarding than the existing voice interfaces will be worth the effort.

As mentioned, Bixby will launch alongside Galaxy S8 which will have a dedicated Bixby button on its side to make it feel easier and more comfortable to give commands.

“For example, instead of taking multiple steps to make a call—turning on and unlocking the phone, looking for the phone application, clicking on the contact bar to search for the person that you’re trying to call and pressing the phone icon to start dialing—you will be able to do all these steps with one push of the Bixby button and a simple command,” said Samsung.

Siri, of course, is always ready to take your input and can be invoked anytime by pressing and holding the Home button or via the “Hey Siri” hotword if that feature has been enabled in Settings. With iOS 10, Apple has introduced support for Siri in certain types of third-party apps, like ride hailing and mobile payment apps.

Siri is also coming to Apple Watch apps with watchOS 3.2.

Source: Samsung

  • Cones1r

    “Bixby, make sure the device doesn’t blow up”

    • Gulam

      Bixby: “ok, I set timer of 5 mins for blowing up this device”

    • GUY

      This stopped being funny … It’s just pathetic now.

      • 5723alex .

        No, its not, as Galaxy S7/Edge devices continue to explode daily…

      • Cerberus The Wise

        Being honest, that is going to be something Samsung won’t be able to live down for a long time.

      • Vinnie Bones

        #triggered

  • Rowan09

    Unless Samsung man up and push Tizen Bixby will be a failure. Samsung is now competing with Google Assistant which is baked into the same device they are selling. Good luck because almost no one uses Samsung’s apps or App Store.

    • Floris

      Total nonsense reaction. Read mine at the top.

      • Rowan09

        Why because it’s the truth? Do you use Samsung apps over the Playstore or the horrible voice system they have now?

  • ravinigga

    I’m not hating Samsung actually love it but it’s seems Samsung needs always a product to compete with Apple.
    Apple Pay now Samsung pay.
    Jet black now maybe s7 jet black
    Earpods now Samsung have EarPods look a like

    • Floris

      Samsung allready had a working payment system on their Galaxy smartphones 2 years before Apple Pay. The service was active in 8 countries in mostly South-East Asia and was later on replaced by the new Samsung Pay when Samsung implemented their MST technology.

      Samsung had wireless earpods 1 year before Apple launched their wireless earpods.

      Apple copied the phablet principle. Apple copied widgets, Apple copied the stylus on their tablet, Apples copies Amoled screens, Apple copies wireless charging, Apple copies VR, Apple copies the retinascanner… shall I go on?

      • Rowan09

        Huh? Samsung didn’t invent Amoled screens and it’s like saying the first company that put Bluetooth on their phone everyone else is copying them. Samsung didn’t create VR or a retina scanner either, they also didn’t create a stylus for a touchscreen device, widgets weren’t made by Samsung and yes Apple did add them later on in the OS, Samsung was also not the first phablet on the market but they didn’t make it popular so they did have the industry follow them. What ever system Samsung had before Apple Pay was a joke because I own a Note 2 along with my S7 Edge and don’t know of any such system. Anyone in their right minds would know Apple made mobile pay systems popular. Apple also made fingerprint scanners usable on a mobile phone. You want to give Samsung credit for things they didn’t do, the only thing I give them credit for is making “phablets” popular. They bragged about Tizen and years later still no Tizen, they are scared and this will not work unless they man up and make their own OS. It will not replace Assistant, they are a slave to Android like all those other manufacturers who have to follow their rules.

  • Floris

    Bixby is far far more advanced and capable than Siri, Cortana and Google Now.

    Bixby was designed to learn how to handle queries that it wasn’t originally programmed to process.
    “The more you ask of Bixby, the more it will get to know you,” Kittlaus said a few months ago. “Siri was chapter one, and now it’s almost like a new Internet age is coming. Bixby will be a giant brain in the sky.”

    TechCrunch expands on this point: The second is the programmatic nature of Bixby’s back-end systems. Utilizing “breakthroughs” in program synthesis, Bixby says its AI is capable of writing its own code to accomplish new tasks. This “software that builds itself” is not new in many other verticals, but Bixby was one of the first big splash announcements using the technique that we had seen in AI. Bixby calls this “dynamic program generation,” and it allows Bixby to understand the intent of the user and to create programs to handle tasks on the fly, even if it’s never heard that particular one in the past.

    Big mistake stating that Bixby is like Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Bixby is much much more and much more advanced that these 3. Siri understands 250 commands at max. Bixby several hundreds of thousands and potentional an unlimited number because of it’s modular and open design and self learning capabilties.
    Unlike other existing AI-based services, Bixby has a sophisticated natural language understanding, machine learning capabilities and strategic partnerships that will enrich a broader service ecosystem,

    Earlier this year, Bixby Labs demonstrated their state-of-the-art AI technology based Bixby app. Current digital assistants such as Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Motorola’s Moto Assist and Google Now can only take pre-defined commands and perform or reply with a prescribed response to a task, but Bixby is said to be far superior than them.
    Users can interact with the Bixby like having a normal conversation with another person and get the service delivered, without having to open an app and choose options on the screen, app developers claim.
    The Bixby application is said to integrate all the information available online, instead of inclining on some select apps installed in the phone for a particular service. It can also intuitively improve itself by learning users’ preferences over time.

    It can also help you make a purchase online with just voice commands. No other smartphone phone brand in the market offers this. Even Google Assistant cannot make payments via voice commands, but it is expected to be made available later this year.