Sam­sung has found a voice

Saturday Star - - ME­DIA & MAR­KET­ING - HAY­LEY TSUKAYAMA

SAM­SUNG of fi­cially re­vealed Bixby, its new voice as­sis­tant and Siri ri­val, on Mon­day. Bixby will de­but on the Sam­sung Galaxy S8, which the firm will un­veil later this month, it said in a blog post.

Sam­sung has voice recog­ni­tion, called S Voice, on its phones but an­a­lysts have been ex­pect­ing a more so­phis­ti­cated AI on Sam­sung phones since last year when the com­pany bought Viv, which was founded by Siri’s orig­i­nal creators. While the com­pany didn’t sup­ply many de­tails about Bixby, it did lay out some in­trigu­ing prom­ises about its new as­sis­tant.

For one, Sam­sung said Bixby can con­trol your phone more thor­oughly than other voice as­sis­tants. Ac­cord­ing to its post, Bixby should let you op­er­ate com­pat­i­ble apps com­pletely by voice, with­out hav­ing to touch the screen at all. Some voice as­sis­tants, in­clud­ing Siri, can in­ter­act with other apps in a limited way. For ex­am­ple, Siri can specif­i­cally or­der an Uber or have Yelp look up a res­tau­rant near you, but you have to use the touch screen for other parts of those apps.

Bixby also shouldn’t get con­fused if you want to mix and match voice and touch con­trols.

Sam­sung put it this way: “Bixby will al­low users to weave var­i­ous modes of in­ter­ac­tions in­clud­ing touch or voice at any con­text of the ap­pli­ca­tion, which­ever they feel is most com­fort­able and in­tu­itive.” In plainer English, it sounds like you could, for ex­am­ple, ask Bixby to open a res­tau­rant reser­va­tion app, then use the touch screen yourself to whittle down your op­tions be­fore ask­ing Bixby to place the reser­va­tion for you.

Fi­nally, Bixby is also sup­posed to be more con­ver­sa­tional. If it can’t un­der­stand the way you’ve phrased a re­quest, Sam­sung said, it will do what it can, and then ask fol­low-up ques­tions. That way, users don’t have to phrase things per­fectly to be un­der­stood. Siri can some­times pro­voke rage when you’re ask­ing it to do some­thing com­plex – only to get a, “sorry, I missed that” in re­turn.

Of course, we won’t know how well any of this works un­til Bixby’s public de­but on the S8 next week. But if Sam­sung de­liv­ers on its prom­ise, it would of­fer far more to users than Siri does. – The Wash­ing­ton Post

The user will be able to op­er­ate apps com­pletely by voice

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