Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant, you’re about to get some more company. Samsung has confirmed that it plans to launch a new digital assistant with its next flagship smartphone.
Reuters reports that the new software will be baked into the Galaxy S8 smartphone which is probably coming in the first half of 2017.
The move isn’t much of a surprise, since it comes about a month after Samsung announced it was acquiring Viv, a new artificial intelligence/digital assistant platform developed by a team led by two of the folks involved in creating Siri.
Viv can perform many of the same functions as existing voice assistant services: it answer questions, provides weather forecasts, and more. But a key feature that the Viv team highlighted when unveiling the software earlier this year was the ability to tap into third-party services to let you do things like “send flowers” from 1-800 Flowers or “book a room” through Hotels.com.
According to the Reuters report, the upcoming, Viv-based assistant will likely retain that kind of support for third-party services… although it remains to be seen how many apps and services will take the necessary steps to offer Samsung AI integration.
Samsung may be hoping its new software helps set the Galaxy S8 apart from other 2017 flagship phones and helps rebuild trust in a brand that’s been tainted by the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. But since most of the company’s smartphones run Google Android software, the new Viv-based AI assistant won’t just have to compete with digital assistants on other phones… it’ll also likely have to compete with the Google voice service that’s likely to be baked into the operating system that will power Samsung’s next flagship phone.
That’s not exactly a unique situation. Samsung and other phone makers have long offered their own alternatives to Google’s music, video, calendar, and other apps. I guess we’ll see if this town (or world) is big enough for Viv and Google Assistant (assuming Google Assistant eventually makes its way to non-Pixel phones).