Samsung Bixby AI Assistant Launched Globally On Eve Of Galaxy Note 8 Reveal

Samsung is finally bring voice control for its Bixby digital assistant to a wide audience. The South Korean electronics maker announced today that Bixby's voice capabilities have expanded to more than 200 countries and territories, which effectively unlocks the feature for millions of consumers who previously were not able to bark out commands like they could with competing assistants, such as Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and even Alexa.

Bixby's roll out has not exactly been smooth. It debuted without voice capabilities even though two supported devices—the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+—brought a dedicated Bixby button to the table. But without voice control added to the mix, many users opted to remap the Bixby button to summon Google Now and other tasks. This did not sit well with Samsung, which tried to block third-party apps from allowing the button to be remapped.


Samsung added voice control to the Galaxy S8/S8+ last month in the US and has now followed that up with a much wider expansion. It currently supports US English and Korean. Like other digital assistants, users can verbalize commands to Bixby to make certain tasks easier, such as setting reminders. Users can also create custom voice commands to use in place of a sequence of commands. For example, a user could configure the phrase "Good night" to act as a shortcut to turn on do-not-disturb mode, set an alarm for a specific time, and turn on the blue light filter.

"Now millions of customers worldwide have access to a new and intelligent way of interacting with their phone," said Injong Rhee, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Software and Services of the Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics. "The expansion of Bixby’s voice capabilities is an initial step in the continued roll out of Bixby functionality. In the future, Bixby will have the learning power to offer more intelligent and personalized interactions and seamless connections across more devices."

Bixby can already perform almost every task that can be done using voice, touch, or text. And because of its deep integration into phone settings, it can change phone options too, such as setting the screen timeout or showing all notifications without interrupting what the user is doing.

Samsung will continue to flesh out Bixby's capabilities over time, the company said. It also plans to expand Bixby to more countries, languages, and devices, along with adding third-party application support.