Just over a week from the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, the company has decided to showcase its brand new AI assistant ‘Bixby’. Modelled in the vein of Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Sire, Samsung stated in a press release that it will be,

“fundamentally different from other voice agents or assistants in the market.”

According to the presser, Bixby is unique from three key elements built into it. The first of these three elements is “Completeness“. Samsung’s assistant is capable of supporting almost every task that an application is capable of performing using its standard interface interactions (i.e., touch input for a majority of apps). Most existing AI assistant are limited either by what they can achieve or cannot execute apps that do not support voice commands completely. This allows Bixby to have a consistent behaviour pattern over multiple apps instead of being dependent on them to function effectively.

Will Bixby be the next major innovation from Samsung?

The second of these pillars is “Contextual Awareness“. Samsung claims that once an applications is Bixby-enabled, it would be able to exercise complete control over the same. Hence, Bixby can be called upon anytime during the functioning of that application and would allow users to carry out their current work-in-progress concurrently without resetting or restarting the task. Bixby will be able to use any mode of interaction that is supported by the application, including touch and physical interactivity which is limited in current assistants via vocal input methodology. This takes out the guess work and mistakes that creep in while using voice-based input interactions.

And finally, the third differentiating factor is “Cognitive Tolerance“. Samsung states that as the pool of supported voice commands gets larger, the average end user is required to remember more of these command triggers to get their work done. Bixby is smart enough to understand commands with partial information and execute the task to the best of its capability. Alternately it will prompt the user to provide more information whilst proceeding with the task step-by-step. The company claims that this makes the overall process more natural feeling and intuitive.

Samsung has also got a dedicated physical button on the side of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ to pull up the assistant on demand. From the press release, the device also ship with pre-installed apps that are completely compatible with Bixby on launch. With the option for it to be enabled on a per-app basis along with an SDK being available for developers to build-in compatibility for their current applications. Overall, only time will tell whether Bixby is really what Samsung is building it up to be or will it simply be Google Now on Tap under a different skin.

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Abhay Masand
Rationalist. Idealist. Cynic. Human. PC enthusiast and gamer. Can be found reading books, listening to casts and babbling. Runs on dopamine. I do the news, sometimes.
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