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Galaxy S8's Bixby assistant to be based on S Voice, not Viv Labs tech

The new digital assistant reportedly won't take advantage of the Viv Labs technology acquired by Samsung last year.

Published onFebruary 10, 2017

The front of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

Samsung Bixby, the digital assistant said to be arriving with the Galaxy S8 flagship phone, will be based on S Voice, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The Bixby software was previously speculated to be built by Viv Labs, an AI specialist Samsung purchased last year. Samsung mobile division chief technology officer Injong Rhee revealed in November that the S8’s AI would house functionality delivered by Viv Labs and that this would “significantly” differentiate it from competitors.

Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal says that the virtual assistant has instead been upgraded from S Voice by Samsung engineers over the past few months. Samsung’s S Voice is the personal assistant preloaded on its devices since the Galaxy S3; the software hasn’t been able to stay toe-to-toe with the likes of Siri and Google Now in recent years (if it ever could) and Samsung is expected to deliver a more competitive assistant with Bixby.

Bixby would be capable of “answering voiced questions from users,” says The Wall Street Journal and may come with a dedicated button on the device — something also suggested by a recent 3D render video of the S8. Whether the assistant would feature machine learning to grow based on user habits and behavior wasn’t commented on.

The Wall Street Journal‘s sources also confirmed a number of previously speculated ideas about the S8, namely: the inclusion of headphone jack, the lack of a home button, a rear fingerprint scanner, curved display models only, and that it would be in consumers’ hands in two months.

These are still just rumors at this point but it feels like we know a lot about what to expect from the Galaxy S8 at this. For me, the changes sound positive — though long-time fans might be sad to lose the home button. I just hope there are still some surprises come the device’s launch.

In potentially related news, what looks like it could be the logo of Samsung’s new AI assistant showed up in a trademark database (via SamMobile). The mark’s description closely matches previous descriptions for the word “Bixby” but there’s little else we can glimpse from the filing.

What are your thoughts on the Galaxy S8’s developments? Let us know in the comments.

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