Samsung has officially unveiled its new Siri rival, the artificial intelligence-powered Bixby smart assistant that will fire up the upcoming Galaxy S8 flagship.

Rumors about Samsung Bixby have been making rounds for a good while now, with a slew of leaks and reports indicating that the highly advanced AI assistant will be among the top selling points of the next-generation Samsung Galaxy S8 series.

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are yet to make their formal debut, but Bixby is now official and it promises an unprecedented level of smartphone interaction and usefulness.

Meet Samsung Bixby, The 'Fundamentally Different' Assistant

Samsung Bixby is set to go head-to-head with Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, the Google Assistant, and other virtual assistants, but it aims to do much more than just offer tidbits of information or alerts on the weather.

With Bixby, Samsung aims to make the "human-to-machine interface" more seamless and natural, able to adapt to users' needs.

"Samsung has employed artificial intelligence, reinforcing deep learning concepts to the core of our user interface designs. Bixby is the ongoing result of this effort," says Samsung.

The company further highlights that Bixby will be the "new intelligent interface" on Samsung devices and it's "fundamentally different" than any other virtual assistant currently available on the market.

According to Samsung, Bixby stands out from the crowd by mastering three key areas: context awareness, completeness, and cognitive tolerance. Let's take a closer look at these three aspects.

Samsung Bixby Context Awareness

Context awareness allows users to summon Bixby at any time in an app that supports it, and the assistant will automatically figure out the context and state of the app so that users get what they need as seamlessly as possible.

Bixby allows for various types of interaction including via voice or touch in any app context. Samsung highlights that most voice agents or assistants impose the interaction mode and/or are cumbersome when switching between modes, but Bixby lets users choose whichever type of interaction they find most intuitive and comfortable.

Samsung Bixby Completeness

In terms of completeness, Samsung explains that when an application supports Bixby, the assistant will be able to handle nearly every task that the application can normally handle via touch commands. The company further points out that other assistants can only support a few tasks of a given application and users are often confused as to which tasks work with voice commands and which don't.

With Bixby, that won't be an issue because the AI assistant's completeness will make it easy for users to understand what the agent can do.

Samsung Bixby Cognitive Tolerance

The third main area, cognitive tolerance, allows Bixby to understand commands and execute tasks even when the information is incomplete. Samsung explains that as an increasing number of voice commands become available, it gets tougher for users to remember how to utter each command exactly. Again, the company highlights that other agents/assistants require users to say commands in a fixed form so they're recognizable.

Bixby, however, can understand commands even if they stray from the exact form. Samsung says Bixby will even perform commands with incomplete information, completing the task as best as it understands and prompting users to offer more information if necessary. According to Samsung, this cognitive tolerance makes the Bixby interface easier to use and more natural.

Voice Interface vs Touch Interface: Bixby Bridging The Gap

Users have already grown accustomed to using touch interfaces and in some cases, learning how to use a voice interface with satisfactory results can be challenging or even frustrating. Bixby aims to make it more rewarding to use the voice interface instead of touch, eliminating friction and simplifying the process for a more intuitive and seamless smartphone interaction.

Dedicated Bixby Button

Earlier rumors had already signaled that the Samsung Galaxy S8 would sport a dedicated Bixby button and Samsung now confirms it. The company says that its "next device" (read: Galaxy S8) will have a dedicated Bixby button on the right side, making it easier to activate the voice assistant.

As an example, Samsung highlights how easy it will be to make a call using Bixby and its dedicated button. Instead of waking the phone, unlocking it, opening the phone application, finding the desired contact, and tapping the phone icon to make the call, users will be able to simply push the Bixby button and issue a voice command to call the desired contact.

Samsung further reveals that the Galaxy S8 will come with a range of Bixby-enabled apps preinstalled out of the box, but more will be added in time. In the long run, Samsung wants to eventually allow third-party developers to make their own Bixby-enabled apps and services.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus will officially debut later this month, at Samsung's new Unpacked event set for March 29.

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