We've known about Samsung's Bixby AI assistant for months now, though the company has kept a pretty tight lid on exactly what it will end up being. We've considered that it will, for the most part, be designed to take on Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, and Apple's Siri, but Samsung has much bigger plans for its artificial intelligence.

Samsung has pre-announced Bixby in a detailed blog post that is half product announcement, half manifesto.

Samsung has a conceptually new philosophy to the problem [of virtual interaction]: instead of humans learning how the machine interacts with the world (a reflection of the abilities of designers), it is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us.

The company notes three distinct ways that Bixby will surpass its competition:

  • Completeness
  • Context awareness
  • Cognitive tolerance

The first is about being able to use Bixby for anything, in any situation. "[It should] support almost every task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface (ie. touch commands)," says the post.

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Next is being able to understand what you're doing as a user and adapt accordingly. "Bixby will allow users to weave various modes of interactions including touch or voice at any context of the application, whichever they feel is most comfortable and intuitive."

Finally, Bixby will be able to complete tasks from incomplete sentences: "Bixby will be smart enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge, and then will prompt users to provide more information and take the execution of the task in piecemeal."

Samsung confirms that Bixby will have a permanent place on "the next device," the Galaxy S8, with a "dedicated Bixby button that will be located on the side" of the phone.

For example, instead of taking multiple steps to make a call – turning on and unlocking the phone, looking for the phone application, clicking on the contact bar to search for the person that you're trying to call and pressing the phone icon to start dialing – you will be able to do all these steps with one push of the Bixby button and a simple command.

The company also points out that this is a long-term vision for the platform, and that the Galaxy S8 will only have "a subset of preinstalled applications [that] will be Bixby-enabled."

But Samsung says there are thousands of engineers working on bringing the platform to other devices and applications, including the company's wide range of appliances. "In the future you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby. Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby. As the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life. Our investment in engineering resources speaks for itself – we have thousands of software developers supporting this effort."

It seems like Bixby is one of the most ambitious software projects Samsung has ever participated in, and we're excited to see what comes from it.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+


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