Samsung starts rolling out Siri rival Bixby in US English

Following multiple delays stemming from lack of big data, Samsung on Wednesday said its new personal digital assistant Bixby is now available in U.S. English to customers in the United States and Korea via a software update for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 smartphones. The company will add support for additional languages and devices “in the near future.”

Samsung delays Bixby’s English rollout over lack of big data

Samsung's personal digital assistant Bixby is currently available in Korean, but its English version won't launch by the end of this month as company executives originally promised.

As The Korea Herald reported Thursday (via The Loop), Bixby's English version has been delayed because Samsung lacks big data needed to train Bixby to speak English fluently.

“Developing Bixby in other languages is taking more time than we expected mainly because of the lack of the accumulation of big data,” said a Samsung spokesperson.

Samsung’s mobile chief, Koh Dong-jin, promised in April that Bixby’s English and Chinese versions would be unveiled in May and in June of this year, respectively.

Even though Samsung launched a beta of Bixby for some US consumers last month, it was met with mixed responses due to what Samsung described as “unsatisfactory results in terms of responding to requests and questions”.

Difficult communication between the engineers located at Samsung Research America in California and the headquarters in Korea is also blamed for Bixby's English delay.

According to a source cited in the report:

Many engineers in the United States are making full efforts to develop the English version of Bixby. But, due to geographical and language barriers their frequent reports to and communication with the management located in Korea makes the progress much slower than developing the Korean version here.

This can't be good news for Samsung, which debuted its latest Galaxy S8 lineup in March with Bixby as one of its headlining features. The new handsets feature a dedicated button on the side for quickly summoning Bixby. The South Korean company even issued a software update to stop third-party apps from changing the button's function.

Although Samsung last year snapped up Viv Labs, the developer behind Apple’s Siri, their AI technology won't be used in Bixby before the personal assistant becomes more complete.

The Wall Street Journal reported two days ago that Samsung is building a Bixby-powered smart speaker, joining a proliferating arms race in tabletop devices against the likes of Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft.

WSJ: Samsung working on Bixby powered smart speaker

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Samsung has been developing a wireless speaker powered by its Bixby personal assistant to take on the rival Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod devices.

Internally code-named “Vega”, the project has been in development for more than a year.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the report states that the release timing is far from determined because the device's feature set and other specifications are yet to be decided, much less a release date.

The development is said to have been held back by the progress of Bixby itself, which already forced the South Korean firm to launch Galaxy S8 without proper support for English voice commands which rolled out in preview form last month.

According to the report, Samsung sees the full release of Bixby voice support as “unlikely before the second half of July.”

Here’s everything Samsung unveiled today

Wednesday, Samsung fired the first salvo against Apple's upcoming iPhone 8 with the official introduction of its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones at media events in New York's Lincoln Center and London's Olympic Park.

But the South Korean conglomerate didn't stop there: they announced a 4K-capable 360-degree camera and other accessories, including a docking station that lets you connect your new Galaxy to an external display and wireless or wired keyboard and/or mouse to use it as an Android-driven computer with a desktop-like interface.

Without further ado, here's a quick recap of everything Samsung announced today.

Samsung announces Siri rival Bixby

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.

Galaxy S8’s assistant to be called Bixby, offer camera-based visual search & text recognition

Galaxy S8 is widely expected to include a new Siri-like personal assistant, called Bixby, which may let users search for objects identified in a photograph and recognize text on images. These features should be integrated directly into Samsung's standard Camera app via a dedicated Bixby button, SamMobile learned Thursday.

Aside from these rumored visual search features, Bixby is thought to let the user control all stock apps and conduct payments, similar to Apple's Siri, and more.