As you have probably heard by now, Samsung Bixby is the electronics giant’s answer to virtual assistants like Google Now and Siri. The assistant arrived with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the company was adamant that it would be one of the phone’s most powerful features.
Today, we will take a look at what you can do with Bixby as well as where it stands against other established offerings.
What is Samsung Bixby?
If you have ever used Google Now, Siri, or Amazon Alexa, then you pretty much know what to expect with Samsung Bixby. Of course, Samsung has its own tricks up its sleeve but at its core, Bixby is like any other virtual assistant.
For now, only South Korea has access to Bixby’s voice command features. Everyone else will have to wait for a while. Moreover, Bixby is only available on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ though Samsung wishes to one day add it to additional platforms, including its own line of smart home products.
Bixby can be accessed either by tapping on the dedicated button right below the volume controls or by swiping right on the home screen. There are three different Bixby services right now and we will go through each of them in depth. Those are Home, Vision, and Reminders. We will also briefly touch upon Voice, though that is not available at launch.
This is the standard Bixby interface accessed by tapping on the Bixby button or by swiping right on the home screen. Here you will find a host of information presented in a card-like interface reminiscent of Google Now.
First and foremost, you will receive updates from major social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Right now, the third-party integration with Bixby is not the best. A few services do exist, so you will be able to instantly open Spotify playlists, for example.
Of course, Samsung does want to partner up with additional companies. For instance, you will soon be able to view your recent rides with Uber. CNN and Flipboard will already show you the top news stories but more will probably follow soon.
Contextual information and reminders are also set to be a big part of Bixby Home. Samsung has touted that the assistant will continuously learn about your habits and adapt itself to them. It will also show you different kinds of cards and information depending on the time of day and current location so you will not get recommendations for coffee at midnight, unless that’s what you usually do.
Though this is a straightforward interface, it should be noted that Bixby Reminders may well one of the assistant’s best features right now. Creating reminders is extremely easy as you can simply type out things to remember by tapping on the bottom of the screen.
Furthermore, reminders are actually more customizable than the default ones offered via Now and Siri. You can easily attach images, videos, websites, and additional messages to new and existing reminders.
This is one of the most interesting features found in Bixby but its usefulness is certainly up for debate. First of all, Vision can be launched by tapping on the Bixby button while you are on the Camera or Gallery apps, or while you are at Bixby Home.
Once launched, Vision will be able to recognize an assortment of different things, much like the standalone app Google Goggles. For instance, you can aim the camera on a can of soda and the app will automatically offer you shopping suggestions from participating partners like Amazon.
Point it at a landmark and it will show you information about it as well as nearby places of interest. Vision can also do some more cool tricks such as translating text on the go and reading QR codes and barcodes.
As one might expect, Vision will only get better with time as Samsung collects more data and adds more partners to its list. Right now, Vision is definitely an interesting app that you will definitely find yourself using a few times.
The future of Samsung Bixby
Before the Galaxy S8 actually arrived, Samsung was attempting to convince prospective buyers that its virtual assistant would be able to work with a huge variety of commands to the point where users would be able to control their phones without lifting a finger.
Samsung Bixby and its Voice might be powerful tools but no one outside South Korea can currently confirm as the feature is not yet available in other countries. Once it does launch, however, Bixby will certainly be able to compete with giants in the field like Now and Siri.
Moreover, Samsung wants to follow in Amazon’s steps and make Bixby available across a huge range of devices, including refrigerators. Whether or not it can actually succeed will depend entirely on Samsung’s ability to establish working relationships with new partners. Considering how late the company is in the game of virtual assistants, it will definitely be interesting to watch their attempts, especially if they emerge victorious.