Sam­sung’s Siri ri­val fi­nally ar­rives

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Hay­ley Tsukayama Richard Drew, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Sam­sung is fi­nally rolling out the English­language ver­sion of its Bixby voice as­sis­tant to U.S. phones, the com­pany said Wednes­day.

Sam­sung’s take on the voice as­sis­tant — and its bid to com­pete with other com­pa­nies’ of­fer­ings in­clud­ing Ap­ple’s Siri, Google As­sis­tant, Ama­zon’s Alexa and Mi­crosoft’s Cor­tana — was cen­tral to its pro­mo­tional pitch when the Galaxy S8 and S8+ were first an­nounced. The com­pany bragged that Bixby would be able to han­dle more com­plex tasks than other as­sis­tants and that users would be able to con­trol a wide va­ri­ety of apps with their voices.

But when the phones hit U.S. store shelves in April, they rolled out with­out its voice fea­tures. (Bixby also has some cam­era-based fea­tures that launched on time with the phone.)

Sam­sung said that the de­lay was due to Bixby’s in­abil­ity to grasp the English lan­sung guage, which is a pretty big prob­lem for soft­ware that’s sup­posed to be able to un­der­stand con­ver­sa­tional com­mands.

A Wednes­day news re­lease from Sam- in­di­cates that it’s solved those prob­lems and that Bixby will be able to do some fairly com­pli­cated tasks.

Users can, Sam­sung said, ask Bixby to do things such as “find pho­tos I took in Spain and cre­ate an al­bum called ‘Va­ca­tion.’”

As good voice con­trol be­comes a ma­jor point of com­pe­ti­tion among tech firms, Sam­sung is un­der some pres­sure to show that Bixby can match or even go be­yond ex­ist­ing voice as­sis­tants.

But it will have to over­come the per­cep­tion that Bixby was dead on ar­rival — or, rather, on its lack of ar­rival when it launched with the phone. Galaxy S8 and S8+ users have had their phones for months now, and those ex­cited about us­ing a voice as­sis­tant on their phones could use Google As­sis­tant from the start.

Galaxy S8 and S8+ users in the United States and South Korea can start us­ing the as­sis­tant’s full English-lan­guage ca­pa­bil­i­ties start­ing Wednes­day, as soon as they down­load an up­date to the Bixby app on their phones.

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