The long-awaited Samsung Galaxy S8 is set to make its debut at the end of March, and we all can’t wait to have a go at the new gifts it’ll bear.

Samsung Bixby
krapalm / Pixabay

Despite this year’s flagship coming a month later than usual, rumors started pouring in as early as mid-2016. Some of the reports suggested impressive but somewhat ludicrous eventualities, such as a flexible, bendable Galaxy S8, an entirely bezel-less display, and an on-screen fingerprint sensor. Now, although we have a clearer picture of how the upcoming gadget will look and feel like, a lot remains uncertain.

That said, there’s one feature we’re pretty much sure is on the way. Reports of a new virtual assistant were merely presumptuous, but keen eyes have recently spotted Bixby in Samsung Italy’s Privacy page. Consequently, fans around the world are taking it as solid confirmation that the S8 will indeed come bundled with the new technology.

An edge over the competition

When Bixby arrives, it’ll be the latest in a slew of mobile assistants, all designed to interpret voice commands and respond definitively.  The timing may seem late, but some enthusiasts see it as perfect. Key players like Apple, Google, and Amazon, have already thrown their products in the field and, theoretically speaking, Samsung should have enough information about its competitors to sweep in for the prize.

However, Bixby’s triumph is not going to be that easy. Amazon is signing up more developers for Alexa, Apple has touted new Siri capabilities with the upcoming iOS 11, and Google Now is set to receive updates of its own.

Nonetheless, the Galaxy S8 could be the device that introduces the next best mobile virtual assistant. Here are some of the ways in which the imminent Bixby can have the edge over its rivals.

1. Being Smarter

Digital assistants have been around for decades, but only the latest have what we can call artificial intelligence. Siri, Alexa, and Google Now are all powered by fascinating tech, through which they can understand the context of a sentence, rather than just identifying the words.

With Bixby, however, Samsung can push the boundaries of AI even wider. In addition to more accurate voice interpretation, analysts are leaning towards the possibility that the new assistant will improve on Google Now’s strategy of employing user-approved data to tailor its activities according to the specific preferences of the smartphone owner.

This approach would mean quicker responses, better prediction capabilities, and more precise search suggestions.

2. More features

One of the many weaknesses that make Siri lag behind other mobile assistants is its limited functions, especially when it comes to third-party applications.

But, while Google Now and Alexa have tried to implement a more comprehensive approach, there’s still a lot more to be done. For instance, everyone would love it if Bixby comes with the ability to chat with friends on Facebook, play videos from YouTube, or send snaps on SnapChat.

Bixby could also work directly with other companies’ software to allow a user to interact with a company app through voice directives. It would, therefore, be able to book a restaurant reservation directly, rather than show a link to Open Table for you to do it yourself.

3. System-wide functionality

If the latest speculations are factual, Bixby will be fully-integrated to the Galaxy S8’s hardware and software, opening it up to tasks like taking screenshots, changing ringtones, muting the phone, taking photos, and so on.

One function we’d really want to come with Bixby, however, is the ability to fish out a picture or video from the phone’s gallery when a user describes its content. The new assistant could also feature visual search, which will allow it to recognize and process whatever is in front of the Galaxy S8’s camera and search the web based on the image data it collects.

Additionally, Bixby may include technology that will use the smartphone’s vocal, visual or fingerprint recognition system to enable you to process payments directly with voice commands, rather than going into an application.

4. Not just for smartphones

Samsung’s move to purchase Viv Labs, a startup AI company, last year was an indication that it’s looking to take the technology as far as it can. According to a statement made by Injong Rhee, Samsung’s chief technology officer, Samsung could use the S8 and Bixby to expand AI into its other devices, like home appliances.

The tech giant may realize the bold move through a universal E-card that will house Bixby. Slotting the card into a compatible appliance – such as a fridge, microwave or dishwasher – would turn it into a smart machine, capable of receiving and processing voice instructions.

Bixby could, therefore, be a simpler approach to the Internet of Things concept, which many consider the future of modern technology.

Wrap Up

For now, Bixby is just one of the many remarkable features that are expected set Samsung’s new flagship atop the best smartphones listed this year. But, when it launches, it could be the most advanced virtual assistant yet, and possibly usher in the next phase of mobile AI innovation.

Article by Jo-Ann Coetzee