Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant is growing up… a little bit.
First unveiled along with the Galaxy S8 earlier this year as a way to control your phone with your voice, Samsung’s virtual assistant has only been available in the US for a few months. Now Samsung says Bixby is available in more than 200 countries and has more than 10 million registered users (which isn’t the same thing as active users).
Samsung is introducing Bixby 2.0 at the company’s developer conference, and a key change is that Bixby isn’t just for phones anymore.
Bixby 2.0 is designed to work with smart TVs, smart speakers, and smart home appliances like refrigerators as well as phones. Unsurprisingly, Samsung makes products in each of those categories.
Samsung is hardly the only company with voice assistant software. Amazon has Alexa. Apple has Siri. Microsoft has Cortana. And Google has Assistant.
But Samsung has tried to differentiate Bixby by focusing on features that integrated hardware and software. Samsung phones that ship with Bixby also ship with Google Assistant, so you don’t need two different voice assistants that can answer your questions or tell you jokes. But Bixby provides hands-free controls for the phone, allowing you to make calls, take pictures, send messages, adjust settings, play videos, and more. It can also integrate with third-party apps, allowing you to control them without touching your phone.
Now that Bixby is moving beyond the phone, it will pick up some other device-specific features. You’ll probably be able to use your voice to change channels or launch apps on a Smart TV, but it can also learn from your viewing habits and suggest actions.
Samsung is launching a developer preview of the Bixby 2.0 SDK today, and Bixby-enabled TVs should be available in the US and Korea soon.