Bixby is Samsung’s new AI assistant for their S8 and S8+ devices, and is a strong rival to Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Samsung claim Bixby rivals the competition in three core areas.
The full functionality of any Bixby-enabled app can be controlled via the assistant, unlike the partial control of functionality offered by other assistants out there.
2: “Context awareness”
Bixby understands the current context and state of the app in question to help it work out how to interpret your commands. For example, if you are pointing the camera at an object, you can issue the command “capture this and send to Paula” and Bixby will understand that “this” refers to the object in camera focus. This is what is meant by “context awareness”.
3: “Cognitive tolerance”
As illustrated by the “context awareness” aspect, rather than having to parrot a series of set command phrases, Bixby can interpret natural language patterns and use context to work out what commands you’re making based on the kind of tasks that would logically follow from the current app state and setup of the phone. It’s this sophisticated level of AI that is making Bixby standout amongst mobile assistants.
Bixby voice assistant
Pressing a button mounted below the volume rocker, or using a “wake word” will activate Bixby’s voice command function. Users can give voice commands like “set display brightness to 50%”, or “take a selfie”, and Bixby will respond immediately, voicing a confirmation once the task is complete. Issue a command of “show this on TV”, and your mobile device will connect with an external display.
One draw back is that you can’t ask Bixby questions like you can with Apple Siri, however the app is still in its early stages, with new features and updates yet to be rolled out, so watch this space.
Bixby is also a more conventional navigation app that can be swiped into view to display cards with info like the weather, news, step count, and the option to share items on social networks, and so on.
There’s plenty of opportunity to customise settings, and menu options change depending on time of day; so you’ll see things like news and weather in the morning, and your alarm and step count in the evening. Bixby will stack apps in order of use, so if you regularly take taxis, the Uber app will get pushed to the top of the pile.
Bixby vision is Samsung’s version of Google goggles. You can point the camera at an object and Bixby will analyse the image and provide you with detailed info about the object. This can be used to search for a book or album, get info about local landmarks, translate languages or look up wine info (just to give an example).
Can I run Bixby on the Galaxy S7?
Unofficially, the app can be installed on the S7 units, but other than the touch interface, you won’t be able to access the voice commands or other assistant features. All the more reason to upgrade to the S8.