The Samsung Bixby digital assistant lets you control your smartphone with voice commands. You can open apps, check the weather, play music, turn on Bluetooth, and much more. You’ll find everything you need to know about Google Assistant‘s biggest rival below, including how to access it, the features it offers, and which devices it’s available on.
Unlike Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby is exclusive to Samsung devices. It debuted on the Galaxy S8 series and is also available on the Galaxy S9, S9 Plus, and Galaxy Note 8. You’ll also find the digital assistant on the Galaxy Note FE and the South Korean variant of the Galaxy A7 (2017). However, these two devices don’t sport a dedicated Bixby button. Bixby on the Galaxy A7 is also very limited, as it lacks voice control.
Bixby-powered smart speakers, TVs, and other products are expected to launch this year.
In addition to smartphones, Bixby runs on Samsung’s Family Hub 2.0 refrigerators and a couple of other devices. The digital assistant is expected to come to a lot more products this year, including smart speakers and TVs.
Bixby understands English, Korean, and Mandarin. For comparison, Assistant supports 11 languages, expected to reach 30 by the end of the year.
There are three parts to Samsung’s digital assistant: Bixby Voice, Bixby Vision, and Bixby Home. The most interesting and useful one is Bixby Voice, which lets you use voice commands to get stuff done. It works with all Samsung apps and a few third-party apps, including Instagram, Gmail, Facebook, and YouTube.
With Samsung Bixby Voice, you can send text messages, check sports scores, turn down the screen brightness, check your calendar, launch apps, and more. The digital assistant can also read out your latest messages and can be customized to speak in a male or female voice. The feature can also handle more complicated two-step actions like creating an album with your vacation photos and sharing it with a friend. According to Samsung, the digital assistant supports more than 3,000 voice commands. This means that anything you can do via touch on your Samsung phone, you can probably do with your voice.
Bixby Voice also supports quick commands, allowing you to perform multiple actions with a single phrase. Instead of telling Bixby to open the camera app, change the mode to super slow-mo, and start recording, you can pre-program all these steps as a quick command and launch it by saying “slow-mo.”
The second part of the digital assistant is Samsung Bixby Vision, which is basically Samsung’s version of Google Lens. The feature is built into the camera and gives you relevant info depending on what you’re pointing it at. There are eight modes to choose from:
Some modes, like Makeup and Shopping, are specific to certain regions, so they might not show up on your device. They don’t all work brilliantly, either. Our very own Jimmy Westenberg tested out Bixby Vision on a Galaxy S9 and ran into a few problems. The Food mode worked half the time, and the translation option wasn’t great either — so just don’t expect everything to work exactly as advertised. Given time, the service will improve, but it can only do so if users are providing the algorithms with the data it needs to get better.
The last part of Samsung’s digital assistant is Bixby Home, which lives on your home screen. It’s similar to Google Feed and HTC Blinkfeed, showing social media updates, trending YouTube videos, the weather forecast, reminders, and so on. You can customize it to only display the info you’re interested in. You can also change the order of the Bixby Home cards by moving the ones that matter to you most to the top.
Let’s start with Samsung Bixby Home. You can access it by pressing the dedicated Bixby button on the left side of a device that has one or by swiping right on your home screen on any phone that supports Bixby. If you keep pressing the button by accident, you can disable it — but you can’t remap it to something else like Assistant.
Read next: How to disable Bixby on the Galaxy S9
The same button that launches Samsung Bixby Home can also launch Bixby Voice. Press and hold it, say your command, and then release it. It’s similar to using a walkie-talkie. Alternatively, you can activate it by saying, “Hi Bixby,” but you have to enable this ability first by launching Bixby Home and going to More Options > Settings > Voice wake-up.
The easiest way to launch Bixby Vision is to open the camera app and tap the Vision icon in the viewfinder. You can also bring up Bixby Voice and say, “Open Bixby vision.”
Samsung Bixby understands thousands of commands. We won’t list them all in this post, but here are some of the more useful ones:
Calls and texts
In October 2017, Samsung announced Bixby 2.0, an upgraded version of its digital assistant, but it’s not available yet. The latest rumor suggests it will debut on the Galaxy Note 9, which Samsung will likely announce in August, although nothing has been confirmed yet.
According to Samsung, the new version of Bixby will be a “fundamental leap forward for digital assistants.” It will be more personal and feature enhanced natural language capabilities for more natural commands and complex processing. More importantly, it will be available on a lot more devices. Samsung plans on introducing Bixby-powered TVs, smart speakers, and tons of other home appliances.
What’s more, Bixby 2.0 will be open, allowing other developers to use it in their products. The tech giant has already launched a private beta program, making the Bixby SDK available to select developers. It will be available to all developers eventually, but there’s no word on when.
Bixby looks promising on paper, but still doesn’t always work as advertised. It didn’t have the smoothest rollout, but it has improved significantly since its debut. Overall, Google Assistant is still the superior option in my opinion, although things could change with the official launch of Bixby 2.0.
Any thoughts or comments? Leave them down below in the comment section.
01/07/2018 10:00 AM