Along with its yearly hardware refresh, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have brought us the company’s latest software endeavour and likely major player in the smart assistant space – Bixby. The system is a marked improvement on the old S Voice and has the impressive Google Assistant firmly in its sights.

Samsung calls Bixby a “multi-nodal intelligent service”, by which the company means that its assistant works not just with voice, but with text and camera inputs too. One of Samsung’s goals has been to ensure that touch and voice controls can achieve the same results.

See also:

Samsung announces Bixby, promises to revolutionize phone interaction

March 20, 2017

Activating your new smart assistant is also a little different than before too. Rather than saying “OK Bixby” or “Hey Bixby”, you press on the dedicated Bixby button instead – located just below the volume rocker on the phone’s left side – and state your request. Samsung says that it thinks these repeated voice activation requests are an unnecessary step for the user.

Starting with the familiar voice commands, Bixby is able to perform the tasks that you would probably expect. Requesting information about the weather, making calls to contacts, and opening apps are all in working order. Users can also create reminders or set a picture as a wallpaper with a simple voice command, rather than having to tap through multiple menus.

What’s more impressive is the assistant’s integration with other Samsung apps. During the demo we saw, Bixby was able to create a new photo album with a specific name the user requested after selecting a few photos from the gallery and speaking a quick command. So, Bixby is able to take inputs from one of Samsung’s apps, such as an image or piece of text, and perform more complicated functions with them using a voice command.

In total, Bixby will be integrated with 10 Samsung apps at launch, including phone, contacts, camera, Bixby Vision, weather, gallery, and the settings menu. Other Samsung apps will follow later, but the company plans to open Bixby up to third party developers at a later date as well.

Pressing the little “Bixby Vision” button in the camera and gallery apps begins an image search.

It’s this tighter integration with Samsung apps where the touch and imaging aspects of Bixby come into play. Bixby Vision, which can be accessed from the Samsung camera app or from Bixby Home, empowers users to perform searches based on images. The results can pull up location search results, shopping listing, and business or people results, depending on what you’re looking at.

For example, Bixby can find information about a landmark and other businesses nearby, pull up online shopping prices for a book you’re interested in buying, and even give you details about wine vintages, flavors, and food pairings.

This doesn’t just apply for real-time pictures either, Bixby is able to perform the same searches on images that are already saved in your gallery, even ones that you’ve edited or applied a filter too. Again, this is done by simply tapping the Bixby Vision icon. This integration even applies to Samsung’s web browser. You can look up a high resolution picture of a person or object, long press and select “Bixby Search” from the menu to look up additional information. Users of Google’s Now on Tap will probably be quite familiar with the type of results on offer here.

Coming full circle, Bixby isn’t just an assistant for the occasional task, as it now appears to be a part of Samsung’s home screen too, in much the same way as Google Now used to be. Navigate over to the Bixby Home page, either by pressing the Bixby button or swiping left on your home screen, and you’re presented with a selection of “cards” from a much wider variety of apps. Samsung Health shows you your steps taken and today’s exercise, news cards offer up the latest headlines, and thumbnails of your latest pictures appear near the bottom. The usual assortment of email, contact, calendar events, and even alarm cards can be spotted in the mix too.

Users are able to toggle these cards on and off to pick and choose the type of information that they would like to see. Third party application support already appears to be present and these cards can be downloaded if you want to add features that don’t come pre-installed, such as social networks or additional news outlets.

Samsung’s new smart assistant isn’t without the expected teething issues though. During our demo it wasn’t super snappy at performing some of the requested tasks and we bumped into the occasional voice command that wasn’t recognised. That said, Samsung is still working on its software and it will no doubt continue to improve with time. Even today, Bixby offers up a compelling set of virtual assistant features that looks poised to offer Google Assistant a run for its money. But we’ll wait until we can spend more time with the handset before rendering our final verdict.

Bixby will be available with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus straight off store shelves in Korea with the US following soon after. European consumers will have to wait until the latter part of 2017 though. Korean and American English will be supported at launch but various other languages will be rolling out “soon”.

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.
  • Ronald

    don’t want all these Samsung software features , hardware is fine but no stereo speakers poor fingerprint implementation, small batteries and again fragile fingerprint magnet glass bodies

  • Andrew Pascente

    So much customized software….. I wonder how much lag there will be

    • Jack Silsan

      Probably none. Probably!

      • Andrew Pascente

        hope so

        • Jack Silsan

          I mean Snapdragon 835 runs Windows 10. Man this a crazy power for a mobile ARM processor! Run an Android almost fork have to be a lot more easier

    • Justin Cantor

      I’ve had the s7 edge for a year now with 180 apps installed and i don’t suffer lag, it’s very smooth. Lag often comes from poorly developed apps and the user not setting apps up correctly in the app settings.

  • Jack Silsan

    Samsung wants to take on Google and its purity philosophy

  • ProLoveLife

    “…likely major player in the smart assistant space…” how do you figure?

    • CEO of Bing!, is assisting visitors to get into “Work at home” practice, that People have been doing for more than one year now. These days alone, I generated about $36k until now with nothing but my computer and some free time, even though i have a regular 9 to 5 job. Even people not used to this, can earn $50/per h successfully and the income might be much very high as time passes… This is how i started >> http://ru­.­vu/qXMLG

  • Daggett Beaver |dBz| ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    I predict that within the next year or so, you’ll see bixby in high-end cars along with Harmon audio. And I’m hoping Samsung comes out with a competitor to Google Home and Amazon Echo.

  • Rob Kowalski

    Bixby will disappear into the background like S Assistant. No benefits to this over Google Assistant, Siri and even Cortana. I wish them luck, but this type of feature is late to the party.

    • Shiro_Dood

      bro I agree but there r lotta crazy fans of Samsung same as that of Apple’s if Samsung releases bixy for like most of its devices than bixy will take over like most of Android more than what Google Assistant can and those Samsung lovers will love it from bottom of their hearts lol I just don’t get this fan thingy I only likes best tech packed with decent simple yet secured software hopefully with less bugs lol

  • Google’s Assistance, Apple’s Siri and lately Samsung wake up with it’s Bixby LOL ;)

  • eric sands

    I wonder if this assistant will be released to older Galaxies? Particularly Note 5.

  • Shrey Solanki

    is bixby going to come as an update to s7 edge too

    • Ronald

      nope

      • Jeff Magee

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  • Justin Cantor

    all these comments with judgment without even trying it. The least you can do is reserve judgement until you have used it for a couple of weeks. I’m not a lover of past Samsung efforts at this sort of thing but it didn’t mean they won’t succeed.

  • Mikaela Harley

    I the way it looks.

  • Jeni Tedeschi

    Great phone, great apps, and amazing picture quality! Jeni T.

  • DrR0Ck

    Phones look great! Would love to win one!

  • Tripwire

    I gotta have it!

  • crochemore

    I think that with its dual objective LEICA 2.0 PRO EDITION, its sensors of 20MP + 12MP should be the smartphone that would suit me

  • Haybatona Dyaz

    Great phone

  • Aakash

    It’s one of the greatest phone in market

  • Vasily Betin

    I think it’s very promising device

  • JJLopez

    Awesome !

  • griso

    I like it

  • Claudia Brodowski

    Great phone.

  • Betty Spry

    I think this would be a great phone for me. has all my needs

  • domsch1988

    See, the last paragraph is the biggest Problem with any “Voice Assistant”. I don’t live in the USA or Korea. I speak German as a main Language. Even though Germany is rather well and fast served when it comes to google features, Google Assistant is not even remotely as great as it is in the USA. Major features aren’t there, Voice Recognition is mediocre at best. Bixby is just another Thing i can’t use here.
    Every single “Smart Ai Feature” is designed with either the US or Korea in mind. I get it, Adding Voice Recognition for foreign languages is a tough task. But that’s why all of those Assitants fail currently. The US, while being a big market, is just part of the world. the majority of Users doesn’t speak English. That’s also the Reason while the “Assistant” Argument for the Pixel was largely irrelevant here. I can’t do much apart from setting a timer or searching Google for stuff…