Samsung took the wraps off Bixby, its new AI-powered virtual assistant which will debut on the upcoming Galaxy S8 flagship and is set to ramp up competition with rivals including Apple and Amazon.
In a statement, InJong Rhee, EVP and head of R&D, software and services, confirmed rumours Samsung’s next flagship will come equipped with a new digital voice assistant, and the company is clearly placing a big emphasis on the feature.
The S8 will feature a button dedicated to launching Bixby on the side of the phone which will be compatible with a set of preinstalled applications. The portfolio of apps will then be expanded over time, with plans to open up the feature to third party developers.
Samsung explained Bixby was the result of its ongoing efforts in AI development, which it is using as a “deep learning concept to the core of our user interface designs”.
It will also differ from other voice assistants available on the market, said Rhee, as it offers “a deeper experience” thanks to proficiency in three areas: completeness; context awareness; and cognitive tolerance.
On the first point, Rhee said a Bixby enabled application will support every task it is performing, unlike rival assistants which only support a limited part of the experience.
When it comes to “context awareness”, Samsung said a Bixby enabled application will be able to “understand the current context and state of the application, and will allow users to carry out the current work in progress continuously”.
Finally, Bixby will be “smart enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the command task to the best of its knowledge”, and not rely on exact commands in a set of fixed forms.
While launching on the S8 will be the first step, the company said “Bixby is at the heart of our software and services evolution as a company”.
“Starting with our smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances,” said Rhee. “In the future you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby… as the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life.”
Notably, this isn’t Samsung’s first attempt at a voice assistant. It first introduced S Voice in 2012, but the company gradually reduced its focus on the feature.
The Galaxy S8 smartphone is expected to be unveiled on 29 March.