It seems like every technology company under the sun is working on a voice-controlled assistant to go up against the likes of Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri. Samsung’s branded version gets a boost from the company’s massive smartphone market share and a somewhat less-than-graceful inclusion of an extra hardware button on its latest models. But what all can Bixby do, and how is it different from its erstwhile competitors?
It Can Be Started With a Button (or Your Voice)
Like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, Bixby can work with a voice command—in its case, the rather uninspired “Hi Bixby.” Unlike the others, though, the service also gets a dedicated hardware button on Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8 and Note 8 phones, putting its functionality front and center. You can expect the feature to trickle down into Samsung’s less expensive models in the coming months, as well as ancillary gadgets like an Echo-style speaker and compatibility with third-party gadgets.
Bixby Integrates With Phone Apps and Hardware
Samsung’s voice control app is designed primarily to access the functions of the phone without having to touch it. In this area, it’s more or less the same as Assistant and Siri, with a couple of notable differences. Voice commands following “Hi Bixby” can activate Samsung apps and third-party apps, and even some of the functions within those apps. For example, “open clock and set alarm for eight AM” is something fairly basic that it can handle easily.
Samsung claims that Bixby’s Voice can perform 15,000 individual voice commands, and its list is growing all the time. It’s integrated will all of the basic apps on Samsung phones, like the dialer, weather, clock, email, and so on, along with more popular third-party apps like the Facebook Android app, Gmail, Instagram, and Twitter. In addition to baked-in commands like “what’s the weather,” Samsung has built a basic “learning” function into Bixby. This lets users train the service to recognize new and generic phrases, like “open Pandora and play my favorite station,” to activate specific functions tailored to their applications. Bixby has deep integration with Samsung’s own apps, too: for example, one of the actions it can perform out of the box is “open camera and turn on ‘Save RAW and JPEG files’ for the rear camera.” Complex stuff.
At the moment, Bixby Voice’s advantages over its competitors are debatable: it seems to be more tightly-integrated to phone hardware than Siri or Assistant, but its ability to control other apps is limited, as is its applications for more general web searches. To put it simply, Bixby lives…
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