As we hurtle towards the imminent launch of Samsung's not-really-very-secret-any-more Galaxy S8 at full speed, we're already learning more and more about one of the phone's most important features: Bixby, a new voice-controlled assistant that will replicate just about any command you could tap in with your fingers.
In a move uncharacteristic of the traditionally secretive company, Samsung has introduced Bixby to the world in a blog post on its website.
It's a heady read and quite technical for a consumer tech company, but Samsung's rationale for creating Bixby is obvious enough: it thinks current speech-to-text clients are a bit limited in their functionality. Bixby will apparently have superior deep learning capabilities to Siri and Google Assistant, letting it better work out what you might want despite hearing an incomplete phrase.
Samsung says Bixby will be able to complete any tasks that an app supports, with a few Samsung apps supporting that functionality from launch. It intends to support these full-on smarts in other apps with a third-party API, although it'll likely take a while for developers to work the complex voice controls into their own apps.
Bixby will be started from a dedicated button on the side of "our next device", says Samsung. Sounds mysterious, until the blog post then goes on to name-check the Galaxy S8 a fee lines later. It'll debut on Samsung's newest flagship phone, but the company also says it'll eventually roll out the tech to its LED TVs and other devices that it builds in the future.
And why the name? Well, apart from Bixby being a small town in Oklahoma, it's also a word that is both easy for a phone to hear (with two sharp noises in the is), and distinctive enough that it shouldn't be confused for another phrase — the same idea behind Siri's unique moniker.
We'll be on the ground in New York for Samsung's launch of the Galaxy S8 in just a couple of days — remember to check back to find out where you can watch along with us, read our live blog and hands-on and find out all the plans and pricing from Australia's major mobile networks.
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