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Samsung reveals the Galaxy S8’s personal assistant

Oh boy. Just a little over a week before the big launch of Samsung‘s next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the South Korean electronics giant has revealed what could be the phone’s soul.

Meet Bixby, Samsung’s very own personal assistant AI program that will make its debut on the new Galaxy S flagship. And they’re promising the world with this one.

According to Samsung, Bixby will be better in three ways:

1. Completeness

Once an application is Bixby-enabled (fully integrated with the AI), Bixby will be able to “support almost every task the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface”.

2. Context Awareness

Samsung says that Bixby will also be able to understand the “current context and state of the application” whenever it is called upon by the user, allowing them to continue the work without interruption. Samsung says that with most AI agents are unable to do this, and often require users to restart the entire task over again, losing all their work in progress, or simply not understand what the user wants.

3. Cognitive Tolerance

The company also says that Bixby will be smart enough to understand commands with incomplete information, allowing the AI agent to execute the user’s wishes (to the best of its knowledge) without requiring a specific phrase or voice command. Should Bixby require more information, it will prompt the user and ask for it, instead of giving up and simply running a Google Search.

All at the press of a…button?

One interesting thing about Bixby is that Samsung has decided to let users call upon Bixby from a dedicated button — instead of a voice command like “OK Google” or “Hey Siri”. They say that it’s to “remove friction” and reduce the “confusion around activating a voice recognition”, which raises some eyebrows.

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Samsung’s goal with Bixby is to flatten the learning curve that comes with new and complex technologies because the more stuff you can do with a device, the more complicated the interface of a particular device has to be — and that’s something I can definitely stand behind. Try explaining all these complicated functions to people who aren’t familiar with technology, and you’d probably do so too.

However, this is a lofty goal. Google’s made some stunning developments into the AI agent with the Assistant and Google Now before it. Now, it sounds like Samsung is saying that they can do better.

I think the make or break aspect for Bixby would be app integration. Samsung says that although Bixby will launch with a support only available on a subset of preinstalled apps, Samsung will eventually release a tool (in SDK) to enable third-party developers to build in support for Bixby into their applications. Whether these developers will be willing to jump on board, remains to be seen.

Either way, Samsung envisions a future where you will be able to control everything — from your phone to other home appliances — with Bixby, which will be pretty useful considering how complicated devices can get these days.

Is Bixby that good? Well, that will have to wait for the launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, something we’re all looking forward to.

In the meantime, let me know what you think of Samsung’s move. Should they have launched Bixby or just stuck with the Google Assistant? Let me know in the comments below.

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You can read more about Bixby here.