Bixby, Samsung’s multi-platform voice assistant, will support German, French, Italian, and Spanish by the end of the year. Also forthcoming? A store for third-party apps — “capsules,” in Samsung’s vernacular — called Bixby Marketplace.
“Game-changing technologies … are now commercially available. Breakthrough AI capabilities that seemed impossible are now within reach,” DJ Koh, president of Samsung’s mobile communications business said onstage at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco today. “Our shared challenge is to use these shared breakthroughs from now into next.”
The progress update comes months after Samsung formally launched Bixby 2.0, an improved version of its digital assistant, alongside the Galaxy Note9. It gave developers greater control and customization over the way Bixby interacts with in-app interfaces and set the stage for deep integration of Viv, the technology platform Samsung acquired in 2016.
In August, Samsung announced that Bixby’s voice smarts have expanded to more than 200 markets globally, including Canada, the U.K., Australia, and South Africa. But despite the recent progress, Bixby is lagging behind its rival assistants, including Apple’s Siri, which is conversant in 21 tongues (not including regional variants); Microsoft’s Cortana, which can speak eight languages; and Google’s Assistant, which as of this summer will be able to converse in five languages, with another four expected by the end of the year. Amazon’s Alexa currently only supports U.S. and U.K. English, in addition to German, Spanish, and a handful of others.
The latest version of Bixby has better natural language processing, faster response times, and built-in noise reduction tech. It’s also more conversational; if you ask it about upcoming concerts over Labor Day weekend, for example, it’ll remember the date range for future searches.
Bixby is at the heart of the Galaxy Home, Samsung’s upcoming smart speaker that will compete with the likes of Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo lineup, and the Google Home. Like its competitors, the Galaxy Home can play music, control smart home devices, and seamlessly switch music between supported smartphones, televisions, and entertainment systems. And it boasts premium hardware, including AKG speakers and an omnidirectional microphone array.
Samsung’s soon-to-be-released smart speaker isn’t the only Bixby-powered device in its portfolio. In a bid to expand the voice assistant’s footprint, Samsung late last year announced that it would make Bixby available on a variety of devices — namely Samsung’s Smart TV and Family Hub refrigerator product lineups. It also unveiled Project Ambiance, a prototype dongle with a chip and microphone that can be added to speakers or TVs.