A fresh AI voice for Samsung S8 would be welcome
NEW YORK—Ok, Google. Hey, Siri. What’s up, Bixby?
Bixby doesn’t have the name recognition of Apple’s Siri or the Google Assistant. That might change if rumors suggesting that a digital assistant called Bixby will be the new AI-infused helper inside Samsung’s next big flagship phone prove correct.
Samsung is expected to unveil the smartphone, presumably the Galaxy S8, in March, though the South Korean tech giant could tease its arrival later this month during the Mobile World Congress tech confab in Barcelona.
One thing that’s obvious: Samsung can’t aim the spotlight on a new phone fast enough, not after the pricey and embarrassing battery-gate debacle that was the Galaxy Note 7. Samsung recently cited design and manufacturing flaws from two unnamed suppliers as the reason some lithium-ion batteries inside the phones caught fire.
Whether it is called Bixby or something else, it appears a fresh voice-driven AI assistant will be one of the banner features inside Samsung’s new phone, hardly surprising given the race to raise the IQs for such brainy digital assistants.
S-Voice or Viv?
Among the outstanding questions is whether Bixby will build on Samsung’s existing (and frankly underwhelming) S-Voice feature, leverage the conversational-based voice technology from Viv Labs, a startup the company bought in October, or apply some combination of the two.
I’ve certainly been impressed by early demos of Viv, which was founded by Siri co-creator Dag Kittlaus. But demos are demos and the tech must prove itself in real world use.
Equally unknown is how a user might summon Bixby. There could be a dedicated button for such a purpose, or perhaps you’ll bark out wake words, along the lines of “OK Google” and “Hey Siri.”
Samsung remains mum publicly on Bixby or other features that might be coming to its latest flagship, but there’s certainly no shortage of rumors.