Samsung has officially announced its own digital assistant, dubbed Bixby, which will debut in the upcoming Galaxy S8. The assistant will have its own dedicated button on the left side of the phone, just below the volume controls, and aims to differentiate itself from Apple's Siri and Google Now by offering a “deeper experience” than its rivals, thanks to its “completeness, context awareness and cognitive tolerance”.
According to InJong Rhee, executive vice president and Head of R&D Software and Services at Samsung, Bixby will essentially be able to control almost every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface, rather than supporting only a few selected tasks. This ‘completeness’ will make the assistant less confusing as to what actions users can perform or not.
Much like Google Assistant, Bixby will also be context aware, which means that users will be able to call on the assistant at any time and have it understand the current context and state of an app. But it reportedly goes a step beyond by letting users combine voice and touch interactions, whichever they feel is most comfortable and intuitive, without losing progress of the task at hand.
Lastly, in the area of 'cognitive tolerance’, Samsung says its digital assistant will be able to understand commands with incomplete information, executing the command in piecemeal by taking care of what it did understand and prompting users to provide more information as needed.
Samsung is framing Bixby as more about controlling complex tasks within apps using your voice, rather than being an extension of search that can offer quick facts and silly jokes. Right of the bat it will only work with 10 Samsung apps, however, which will significantly limit its usefulness. It will also be limited to just English and Korean at first, with Chinese and US Spanish to be added shortly after launch.
The vision for Bixby doesn’t end with smartphones. Samsung says eventually the assistant will be embedded within all its appliances, so you can control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby.