After months of delays, Samsung has finally launched its Bixby voice assistant in more than 200 countries worldwide. Among the countries with access to the smart assistant are the UK, Australia, Canada and South Africa – although it can only understand American English and Korean. The launch will come as a huge relief to Samsung, which suffered major delays as Bixby'struggled to understand English.' It operates through'Quick Commands' – a feature that allows users to create custom voice commands. For example, users can use the command'good night' as a shortcut for'Turn on Do-not-disturb mode, set an alarm for 6:00am and turn on blue light filter.'
Samsung's virtual assistant Bixby has added voice commands for UK users for the first time. The artificial intelligence-powered assistant first appeared on Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8 smartphones earlier this year and enables users to ask questions and quickly access different parts of their smartphone using command prompts. Until now, voice commands had only been available in the US and South Korea, with only text and camera-based feature accessible to users outside these countries. But the UK is now one of more than 200 countries included in the expansion, which can be triggered by saying "Hi, Bixby". Similar to other smart assistant's including Apple's Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa, Bixby understands and responds to voice commands on scheduling, news updates and weather reports, as well as launching apps on a user's smartphone.
The Bixby-powered Galaxy Home speaker will launch in April, Samsung said. Samsung's AI platform Bixby is still a minor player in the virtual assistant market, with just a fraction of the audience that Google, Amazon and Apple enjoy. Still, Samsung continues to invest in Bixby's capabilities and its reach. At the Galaxy S10 Unpacked event on Wednesday, Samsung announced that Bixby is now officially available in four new European languages. And speaking with ZDNet's sister site CNET, Samsung co-CEO DJ Koh on Wednesday said the Galazy Home -- a Bixby-powered smart speaker -- will finally launch in April.
Samsung is rumored to be building its own smart speaker, which will be powered by its Bixby voice assistant. The development of the device is said to have slowed down due to the lack of progress with Bixby. Samsung's smart speaker is said to be codenamed as Vega, according to The Wall Street Journal (via The Verge). Unfortunately, the WSJ's report didn't include details about the smart speaker's specifications, nor did it provide a timeframe for when consumers can expect it to be released. What was made certain about the report is the development of project Vega is being slowed down.
Samsung's Bixby digital assistant hasn't been received well by Galaxy S8, S8 and Note 8 users. And now Samsung is reportedly replacing the head of the Bixby team and might even launch a new version of the assistant next week. Samsung's Rhee In-jong is being replaced as the head of development of the Bixby digital voice assistant by Chung Eui-seok, the head of service intelligence at the company's South Korean headquarters, according to The Investor. The Chung's service group is in charge of developing Bixby and other services related to artificial intelligence. Chung worked for Ericsson before joining Samsung in 2011 and is credited for being the software specialist behind Samsung's security program Knox and Samsung Pay.