About a week before the Unpacked event on March 29, Samsung has officially announced its new AI assistant Bixby. InJong Rhee, the head of R&D at Samsung, said in a blog post that the voice assistant would arrive with the Galaxy S8. The AI assistant would initially have only limited capabilities, but Rhee promised that it would be “fundamentally different” from rivals like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana.

Samsung Galaxy S8
Image Source: Samsung Philippines (screenshot)

Bixby to work with only 10 Samsung apps

Samsung will add a dedicated Bixby button on the side of the Galaxy S8 to activate the assistant. Rhee wrote that Bixby would be natural and intuitive enough to interact with users in their natural language. The Korean electronics giant plans to improve the service and expand it into other devices in the future. Rhee believes any action that is performed using touch will be carried out using voice in the future.

Gartner predicts that voice assistants would become the primary way for users to interact with their smart homes by 2019. At first, Samsung’s new AI assistant would be compatible with only ten Samsung-made native apps such as Contacts, Messages, Settings, and Photo Gallery. Samsung plans to open up the assistant to third-party developers in the future.

Bixby and Google Assistant both coming to Galaxy S8

Bixby would initially speak only Korean and English, with Spanish and Chinese likely to be added shortly after rollout. In contrast, Apple’s Siri speaks almost two dozen languages, and can perform a wide range of tasks. Rhee said users would be able to access Bixby Home by swiping left on the screen. It will show you cards with different suggestions. But the presence of both Bixby and Google Assistant on the Galaxy S8 could confuse users.

The AI assistant also includes an image-recognition functionality that will be able to scan text for translation, identify products and landmarks. After identifying a product, it will send you to an online store where you can buy it. According to CNet, the Korean electronics giant began working on the voice assistant about two years ago after a lukewarm response to its S Voice.

Samsung hasn’t used Viv’s technology yet

Last year, Samsung acquired Viv Labs after realizing that Bixby lacked some capabilities. Viv Labs was founded by people behind Apple’s Siri. Viv is said to be far more advanced that Siri, with capabilities to carry out complex tasks and answer follow-up questions. Viv’s technology could not be incorporated in Bixby, though Rhee promised that Samsung would use Viv’s innovations in the future versions of Bixby.

A recent leak indicates that the Galaxy S8 would cost more than Galaxy S7. Sources familiar with the matter told tipster Evan Blass that the Galaxy S8 would start at EUR 799 while the S8 Plus would set you back by EUR 899. The devices are coming in three new colors – Black Sky, Arctic Silver, and Orchid Grey.