Sheldon PintoMar 30, 2017 14:17:18 IST
Samsung and term "software" have not been synonymous for various reasons in the past. We had Samsung's S voice which was a terrible and half-baked attempt to quickly counter another voice assistant, Siri by Apple. Samsung's quest to compete with Apple has been a rather long and unending one. While Siri has gotten smarter over time, especially with iOS 10, she is not as smart when you compare it with Google's recent AI creation, Assistant.
Yes, Google Assistant is right about the smartest assistant you can find that for now is available on a number of devices. Microsoft's Cortana really does not count as it barely makes a dent in the smartphone space and is fighting its own uphill battle to make itself available on Android and iOS smartphones, since Microsoft really does not have any of its own. In short, out of sight is out of mind.
And in the quest to compete with Apple's Siri (and in more ways than one Google Assistant) we now have Samsung's very own AI-based digital voice assistant Bixby that comes built into the Galaxy S8 flagship. Bixby is smart, can get smarter, has the potential to attract developers and even help Samsung build its own smartphone software ecosystem. But at the announcement, Bixby was not as awesome as we expected it to be.
As per CNET, Bixby is purely home grown as it stands today and has yet to be plugged into Viv, the brains and brawn behind the operation. But while this yet has to happen, Samsung has a few tricks up its sleeves those that do give Bixby something worth talking about.
|Trigger||Voice trigger "OK Google" or long press on the Home button||Voice trigger "Hey Siri" or long press on Home button||Dedicated Bixby button and voice trigger|
|Separate section to display information and results||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Displays contextual information||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Works with||Voice, typed queries||Voice, Edited queries||Voice, typed queries and vision|
|Default Assistant||Google Assistant||Siri||Bixby|
|Natural language processing||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supported devices||Android devices and Google Home||All devices running iOS, macOS and tvOS||Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+|
|What does it connect to?||Google apps, third party apps for home automation or supported IoT enabled devices||Data stored in your iPhone, home automation or supported IoT devices||Data on phone, third party apps, IoT enabled appliances from Samsung|
|Understands…||Different accents||Has trouble||Not known|
|Third party app support||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Unlike Google Assistant and Siri, Bixby comes with its own dedicated button. You don't have to press down on your home button and wait for the assistant to launch. It can also be triggered by voice like the competition. And unlike the others, it adds vision to the mix, that works similar to Bing Vision or Google Goggles. See something you like? Tap on the vision button and find it on the web or in a store online.
Like Google Now on Tap it not just understands what's on your screen but can get things done as well. At the announcement an executive demoed the unfinished Bixby by asking it to send his location to a friend. Bixby took a snapshot from the Google Maps app (which was open) and added it to a multimedia message prompting the executive to choose the right contact (as there too many by the same name).
Bixby when integrated into third-party apps will also be able to get every possible action in an Android app completed using just voice commands. Need to exit that annoying group on WhatsApp? Tell Bixby and it should be able to do it without the need for you to open the app.
Impressive? Yes. But we will have to wait until Samsung sorts out things with its long list of partners and third-party app developers, that will integrate their services with Bixby.
In a way, it is not the Bixby we all expected it to be on the day of the announcement. Bixby was supposed to be different in a way that it was expected to complete tasks, things that other assistants could start and help with but not complete. So far, it's hard to tell as Bixby is indeed not ready for showtime just yet.
And this is a problem, because Google Assistant is already making its way to more Android flagships. Again why would developers use Bixby's software development kit (SDK) when Assistant already has one and appeals to a broader audience through its Android smartphones (Samsung included)?
Indeed, Bixby will need to prove itself early before it can make itself worthy of a button. And from what we can see right now, that Bixby button on the S8 better be customisable when the device launches as Google Assistant in its current state already seems to do a stellar job.
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