Apple may have kicked off the recent virtual assistant craze with the launch of Siri. But these days Siri has a lot of company: Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant (which might have the least creative name of the bunch).
Samsung is expected to officially unveil the phone at an event on March 29th and it should start to ship in April. The phone will have Bixby software baked in, along with a dedicated button on the side of the device that lets you activate the service when you don’t want to use a voice command.
Of course, the Galaxy S8 will also run Google Android software, which means that you can use Google’s voice services. But Samsung is hoping Bixby stands out due to its integration with Samsung products and a few additional features including the ability to give you full control over apps that support Bixby.
Once an app is Bixby-enabled, Samsung says anything you could do with touch commands can also be accomplished by voice.
When the Galaxy S8 launches, Samsung says only a “subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled,” but the company expects the list to grow… and Samsung will released an SDK to help third-party developers add Bixby support to their software.
It’s the kind of move that would probably be doomed to failure if it were coming from a different company: why would Android app developers add support for a virtual assistant from HTC, Sony, or LG when they could just tap into Google Assistant to enable voice support across a wider range of current and upcoming Android devices?
But Samsung is currently the world’s top smartphone maker, so the company might actually have the clout to pull this off.
On the other hand, Samsung’s past attempts to run its own app store, video store, and other alternative-to-Google features haven’t always been successes. Bixby could go either way.