Samsung announces competitor to Siri, Cortana

Samsung’s digital assistant, Bixby, adapts to humans and has three new elements not found in Siri or Cortana

Samsung announces competitor to Siri, Cortana
Betsy Weber (CC BY 2.0)

The field of personal digital assistants is only getting more crowded, with Samsung's new entry Bixby joining the fray. The Korean electronics giant announced the new assistant ahead of the Galaxy 8 smartphone, where it will make its debut. 

Bixby was thought to be the product of Viv, an AI assistant created by the same team that created Siri before Apple acquired it. Samsung acquired the Viv team last year. But Bixby is a new product from Samsung and intended to be a little different from the typical digital assistant. 

+ Also on Network World: Virtual assistant faceoff: Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant and Siri +

While Bixby will do most of the typical digital assistant functions found in Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, it also adds three new elements: context awareness, cognitive tolerance and completeness. 

Samsung said Bixby represents a twist on the philosophy behind technology. Instead of humans learning how the machine interacts with the world, it is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us.  

In terms of context awareness, Bixby-enabled applications will always understand the context of the person's use of the app, what they are doing or trying to do, so it does not have to figure out what they are doing when called into service. Bixby will allow for multiple use modes, like touch or voice, at any context of the application, whichever they feel is most comfortable and intuitive.  

Cognitive tolerance means that as the number of supported voice commands grows, you won't have to remember a growing number of specific commands. As the number of commands increases, you usually have to remember a very specifically-worded command, a common complaint about Amazon's Alexa. But Bixby will be smart enough to understand commands with incomplete information and will execute the task to the best of its knowledge. 

Finally, under completeness, Bixby will be able to support almost every task that an application is capable of performing using the conventional interface. Samsung said most existing digital assistants can perform only a few selected tasks for an application, but Bixby will be able to do virtually everything via voice that can be done via touch.

Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy S8 on March 29. It's expected to have a small number of Bixby-enabled apps at launch, but there will also be a SDK for developers to get to work making Bixby-enabled apps.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Take IDG’s 2020 IT Salary Survey: You’ll provide important data and have a chance to win $500.