After a difficult first year, Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant is getting a “bold reinvention,” the company announced at its annual develop conference.
Samsung’s head of service intelligence for mobile, Eui-Suk Chung, promised in his follow-up blog post that Bixby 2.0 will be “ubiquitous, available on any and all devices,” acting as the control hub of a user’s network of smart devices, from home speakers to refrigerators. He also noted Bixby 2.0 has enhanced natural language capabilities.
Perhaps most significantly, however, Chung announced a private beta program for the Bixby software development kit (SDK), in order to let developers build apps for the service, a key component of Amazon Alexa’s early success as an AI. Samsung says it will gradually broaden its SDK program and eventually make it publicly available.
“We know Samsung cannot deliver on this paradigm shift by ourselves — it can only happen if we all, across all industries, work together, in partnership,” said Chung.
“We know Samsung cannot deliver on this paradigm shift by ourselves.”
Bixby debuted in March 2017 and made it to Canadian users in late August. So far, it’s received lukewarm reviews, with our own Sameer Chhabra commenting on how poorly the AI responded to contextual cues. In fact, the dedicated Bixby button on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ was received so poorly (partially because of the potential for easy triggering) that Samsung had to allow users to disable the button altogether.
With the second generation of Bixby, Samsung is attempting to right that situation, a task the company is taking seriously.
Chung underlines just how important the company believes AI is to the future of consumer technology by comparing it to the advent of touch screen smartphones.
“I believe that we are now on the cusp of the next major tectonic shift,” said Chung.
Bixby 2.0 is integrated with Viv technologies, the startup founded by Siri vets that Samsung acquired last year.
As for the timing of the roll-out in Canada, Samsung told MobileSyrup: “At this time we can confirm that Bixby 2.0 will be coming to Canada in the near future. We will provide more information as updates are made available.”
Update 20/10/17: Updated with comment from Samsung.