A solid five months after Samsung announced it, the Bixby voice assistant is finally available in Australia.
Bixby launched into Australia alongside the Samsung Galaxy S8, which has a dedicated side button to access its features. In Korea, where Bixby launched completely alongside the phone, a short press brings up the Bixby Home screen with calendar reminders, social media and AI-predicted recommendation cards, and a long press enables a Google Assistant-esque voice assistant.
That voice assistant has been unavailable in English-language regions since launch, but the US got it a month ago -- and Australia's turn is today. Australian phones -- those with IMEIs sold in Australia -- will have the update to Bixby progressively rolled out, and the contextual voice activation will be its centrepiece.
Now, if you press the Bixby voice button or swipe across your home screen to Bixby, you'll be given prompts to update. From then, you'll be able to long-press the S8's Bixby side button or say "Hi, Bixby" to activate it. Samsung also has a guide to Bixby's basic features to get you started.
At the moment, Bixby doesn't have an Australian-specific setting, but it will understand your Australian accent contextually. From Samsung: "Natural language understanding allows Bixby to continuously improve its ability to interpret regional dialects. But, since Bixby learns more frequently used command terms more quickly, it will take more time for Bixby to fully understand regional dialects that are used less frequently. "
You'll be able to ask Bixby to "show me all the photos I've taken of cars", for example, and it integrates with a few third-party (non-Samsung) apps like Google Maps. It joins other Samsung AI features like the combined Bixby Home reminders that are time- and location-specific, the Bixby Vision image recognition service, and Bixby Recommendations, but the voice assistant, which Samsung intends to take on Google and Apple's first-party Assistant and Siri, has been conspicuously absent from Australia until now. [Samsung]