Samsung Bixby Voice Assistant Makes U.S. Debut On Galaxy S8 And S8+

At long last, Samsung feels comfortable enough its in-house Bixby smart digital assistant to roll out voice control in the United States for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. With voice control in hand, Bixby can finally be taken seriously as a competing digital assistant, a somewhat crowded field that also includes Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana, and Amazon Alexa.

This was a long time coming for Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ handset owners, and also a point of contention between users and Samsung. Without voice control, Bixby's functionality could be viewed as half-baked and not ready for prime time. This led some users to seek alternative users for the dedicated Bixby button. Third-party apps such as BixRemp and bxActions allowed users to remap the Bixby button to summon Google Now or any of several other functions. This set in motion a cat-and-mouse game between Samsung and developers, as the former issued updates to block these apps while the latter sought workarounds.

Samsung Galaxy S8

While those apps are not suddenly obsolete, having voice control goes a long way towards making Bixby a relevant tool. As Samsung points out, Bixby's added functionality now lets users seamlessly navigate their phones and switch between voice commands, touch, vision, and text without much fuss.

Bixby Apps and Icons Bixby Apps and Tasks
Some of Bixby's Apps, Tasks And Functions That Can Be Performed

"At Samsung, we are dedicated to creating the best possible user experience for our customers. That’s why we designed Bixby—it’s an intelligent interface that allows you to do more things with your phone. We want to offer a truly multimodal experience, so that users can interact with their phone in many different ways—through sight, touch, typing or voice—all of the most natural ways to interact with the world, available on your smartphone," says Injong Rhee, Executive Vice President, Head of R&D, Software and Services of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics.

Rhee added that as the Bixby ecosystem grows, it will further spread its wings context awareness and cognitive tolerance to evolve from a smartphone interface to a sort of life interface. It is a bit of hyperbole on Samsung's part, though the point remains.

Users can activate Bixby either by pressing the dedicated button or saying "Hi Bixby." Once summoned, Bixby can perform several different tasks, such as sending text messages, setting alarms and reminders, and so forth. Where Bixby really shines, however, is is being able to tap into various menus and settings to complete more complex tasks than what Google Now is capable of doing.

Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ owners in the US can start using Bixby's voice service immediately by updating the application to the latest software version.