And ze (unknown gender) is not like Siri, or Cortana, or like any other personal assistants out there who just tells you the weather or rejects your marriage proposals.
Bixby is actually really an assistant.
It is specifically programmed to work as more like your helper on your Samsung handling the everyday tasks that you do in your phone.
At least that is what Samsung is saying…
It is Bixby’s destiny to solve one of the most difficult challenges in all of tech to make Samsung’s crappy designed software and interfaces easier for you to use.
Argh, take my money. I want Bixby already.
You can catch a glimpse of Bixby walking the red carpet when Samsung reveals their new Samsung S8 later this month on 29th March with the S8 going on sale by 21st April in the US.
The phone is set to have its own button to call Bixby whenever you need to.
Samsung also does say however that Bixby when released will first only be available for preinstalled apps, and that will be added over time.
If you’re hoping that Bixby will be available in French, German, or any other language, then you will be quiet bummed to know that it will only be available in English and Korean at first but there are plans to add other languages right after the launch. 🙂
How is Bixby any different from Siri or any other ‘personal assistants’ out there?
Probably the biggest question in your mind this very second.
To be honest with you,
It really depends on how much you’ll get out of Bixby, that is should you buy an S8, and it won’t be as powerful as you may expect at first.
Samsung has been pretty tight-lipped about how Bixby will work, but in a blog post announcing Bixby all they did say was
“When using a Bixby-enabled application, users will be able to call upon Bixby at any time and it will understand the current context and state of the application and will allow users to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously.”
Without much of the fancy marketing bullshit, what they’re trying to say is:
Bixby knows what you’re looking at on your screen and it’ll provide options from there to help you.
Dr. Injong Rhee, Samsung’s head of research and development for software and services, says that Bixby is
“philosophically different from other agents,” and its purpose is to “change user behavior from just using touch commands.”
Like I said, Bixby is not the kind you use when you want to check your weather, or know about last night’s NBA game, or feel loved whenever you’re naked.
What Bixby helps you with is, for instance, if you wanted to send a picture that you’re looking at in your phone’s gallery app to your mom without really having to switch apps or type her contact info in.
As Rhee says,
“Bixby is an intelligent user interface, emphasis on interface,”
“A lot of other agents are focused on being knowledgeable, providing answers to fact-based questions, glorified extensions of search. Bixby is capable of developing a new interface to our devices, or devices that are going to host Bixby.”
It’s designed in a way to allow you to switch between voice commands and touch interfaces, whilst at the same time guiding you by the hand along your tasks.
Samsung says this is a game changer compared to what the other virtual assistants, which try to complete whatever task you give it from start to finish but gives up so easily if it finds it too complicated.
“Bixby will be smart enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge, and then will prompt users to provide more information and take the execution of the task in piecemeal,”
You and I both know that Bixby will not be able to handle everything at first, but it can help you guide as far as you can in your task until you have to step in.
Under the Spotlight
Samsung’s dreams hang on the very first impressions that Bixby makes.
You know, I know, Samsung knows, that they can’t compete with Google, Apple, Microsoft in this battle of the raw machine learning power and putting enormous amounts of information right at your fingertips.
So how are they going to change that?
Do something that no one else is doing.
If it does build the foundation of a beautiful user experience then it’s something that you and I will find using the assistance more often what the other companies have largely ignored.
If you have used Google’s Now on Tap, then you will find Bixby to not be that different from what Google has already done,
Here’s a video for you on Google’s Now on Tap. 🙂
Samsung argues that with the use of deeper integration of Bixby within your apps on your S8, makes it much more useful and reliable.
The main goal, according to Rhee, is
“to make the interface of the phone simpler and more natural to use.”
Rhee claims that out of the box, our smartphones can perform over a whopping 10,000 tasks, while current digital assistants can only do about 100.
Which pretty much explains why both you and I don’t use Siri as often to handle our tasks because
You gotta admit,
It doesn’t understand what you precisely want it do, and by the time it figures out, it saves time for you to do it yourself.
Samsung wants to change that, hence why their goal is to have Bixby be able to perform every task that you can do with touch via voice and make it simple so that you and I can rely on it much, much quicker.
“Everything you can do with a touch command, you can do with a voice command when using a Bixby-enabled application,”
Here, There, Everywhere Bixby
It doesn’t just end there…
Samsung wants Bixby to not just be on your phones, but also bring Bixby to your TV, your remotes, your wearables, and
You know what?
I won’t be surprised if they even bring Bixby onto my Samsung refrigerator..
”Hey Bixby, could you give me some ice cubes?”
Now that, my friend, would be pretty f****** cool.
But again, the refrigerator would need its own internet and a microphone as Rhee says that Bixby can only work with anything that “has an internet connection and a microphone.”
Rhee did talk about how the assistant can help you make use of all the complex features on your appliances that you have in your home too. (that’s one step closer to getting my chicken fried without having to get up from the couch)
Rhee said that since it’s a cloud based service it’s capabilities can carry across all your devices.
What brings all these devices together to work seamlessly, as Rhee says, is just one button to call Bixby.
“Having a button solves a lot of problems for us,”
The great thing is, with the use of fingerprint sensors on smartphones these days, the use of a biometric fingerprint sensor for this button (that is if Samsung does implement this) can also beef up your security whilst authenticating who the user is, which is great if you have children who you don’t want them playing with your washing machine until it floods.
There are bigger implications for the Bixby button, too; it can be seen as the bridge between Samsung, the established hardware maker and the ambitions of Samsung, the software and services company.
Two Buttons.. Hmm that’s a gamble don’t you think?
This is where again it can all come tumbling down for Samsung.
Rhee said that there will be a dedicated button that moves Bixby away from the already overloaded as Rhee referred the home button.
He believes since both Siri and Google Assistant both utilize the home button on their respective phones, with the extra button it could mean an increase in adoption rate for S8 users.
But it’s a big, big gamble.
Wasn’t the removal of headphone jack a big enough gamble already?
Weren’t you the guys who made the exploding Note 7s, so what makes this doesn’t explode our $800 investment back at our face once again?
I get you.
If Bixby can not live up to all that hype about great experience, usability and having the X factor in every aspect of what it truly means to be an ‘assistant’ especially coming from a company that has been fragile with their brand being associated with explosions then Samsung will find it hard to make their goals for Bixby a reality.
That’s not all..
If Bixby isn’t able to deliver a great experience for you every single time, then it makes an entire button on your phone’s precious real estate completely useless.
Do you really want an extra button at the side of your smartphone which you don’t even use?
These are all lofty ambitions, and Rhee does say that it might take a very long time for Bixby before you and I get to see Bixby do much to provide a seamless user experience and bring Samsung’s goals into reality.
If you’re a developer, then you might get to work your magic on Bixby
Samsung is planning to release an SDK for third party developers to work on making Bixby much better and expand its capabilities.
But if you were to take a look of the history then you’ll come to know that just because an SDK exists, doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed that developers will come running.
Apple did play a part creating Bixby
Don’t get me wrong,
Bixby is a product of Samsung.
But the recent acquisition of Viv did and will be playing a crucial role making Bixby play seamlessly with other third party services.
Which at its essence,
Is one of the core, fundamental aspects that Samsung hopes Bixby will mold into.
If you don’t already know,
Viv Labs was founded by the creators of Apple’s Siri which actually had many third party integrations before it was used into the iOS itself.
Hence if you were to argue that Bixby will be successful then you have to consider Viv to play a central role to it.
Here’s to Bixby 🍷
You and I know that the first 4 minutes of impressions is the trial that presents whether Bixby does get to stay put or gets the boot amongst its users.
Just ask all the people that you know that tried Siri when it first came out..
You’ll be surprised how quickly many people found it disappointing.
This is certainly not the first time either as Samsung did have that S Voice which…
You’ve got to admit it sounded so slow and dumb, didnt really inspire your confidence in Samsung did it?
So you and I will to wait and see when Bixby arrives.