Ahead of launching its latest smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8, in New York City tomorrow, Samsung today announced that its voice-controlled digital assistant Bixby is now available in more than 200 countries around the world.
Originally set to roll out in the U.S. and South Korea in the spring with the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus flagship phones, Bixby's arrival was delayed until July. The delay appeared to be linked to numerous reviews that found the AI appeared to struggle with natural language voice commands.
Now supported in the U.K., Canada, Australia, South Africa, and many other countries in addition to the U.S. and South Korea, Bixby currently works only in Korean and U.S. English. Samsung said the AI, which supports native Android apps and a growing list of third-party apps, will learn to recognize users' preferences and speech habits to continue improving over time.
Unique 'Deep Integration'
In addition to offering quick commands, Bixby can also be personalized to support custom voice commands and shortcuts for multiple functions at once, according to Samsung. For example, users who want to combine turning on the do-not-disturb mode, setting a 6 a.m. alarm and activating their phones' blue light filters can configure Bixby to do all of those things with a simple "good night." The AI also responds to contextual, cross-application commands such as, "Send the photo just taken to Mom."
Compared to competing AI applications, such as Google Assistant and Apple's Siri, Bixby is deeply integrated into supporting Samsung devices, allowing it to manage any task that could also be carried out by touch or text, the company said.
"The expansion of Bixby's voice capabilities is an initial step in the continued rollout of Bixby functionality," Injong Rhee, an executive vice president at Samsung, said in a statement. "In the future, Bixby will have the learning power to offer more intelligent and personalized interactions and seamless connections across more devices."
Future Support for More Languages, Capabilities
Users with Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus phones can activate the AI by holding the dedicated Bixby buttons on their devices or simply saying, "Hi, Bixby." The capabilities of the interface might vary according to a user's country or service provider, Samsung said. In addition, Bixby might not yet recognize all the different U.S. English or Korean accents, dialects, and expressions.
"Natural language understanding allows Bixby to continuously improve its ability to interpret regional dialects," Samsung said. "But, since Bixby learns more frequently used command terms more quickly, it will take more time for Bixby to fully understand regional dialects that are used less frequently." Support for other languages, devices, and third-party apps are expected to expand over time, Samsung added.
"[A]s the Bixby ecosystem grows, it will use its completeness, context awareness and cognitive tolerance to evolve from a smartphone interface to the interface for your life," Rhee noted in a statement last month.