Samsung's technological reach is formidable, shipping more phones than any other manufacturer. The company boasts nearly 23% of the global smartphone market, and its Gear VR headset, available since late 2015, is already among the most popular virtual reality devices going. But when it comes to voice-activated speakers, a medium that some believe is on the cusp of becoming the next major computing platform, there's reason to question whether Samsung has the wherewithal to keep up. The South Korean technology giant may be developing a new Amazon Echo-like smart speaker powered by its Bixby virtual assistant, reports the Wall Street Journal. But it's arrival would likely come long after category pioneers like Amazon, Google and Apple have either released or announced plans to launch voice-activated gadgets of their own.
Now select users will get to test it. One of the most anticipated new features of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 prior to the phone's launch in March was an artificial intelligence assistant named Bixby that you were supposed to be able to control by voice. Unfortunately while some of Bixby's capabilities made into onto the phones, the voice-based commands that would make Bixby respond more like the Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Amazon's Alexa was delayed, at least in the U.S. (Bixby is fully operational in South Korea, where Samsung is based). On Friday, Samsung Electronics America announced it will give "select" Galaxy S8 and S8 users early access to Bixby's vocal capabilities as part of what it still considered an early preview test. Samsung hasn't disclosed how many Bixby testers will gain access to this sneak preview, which will let you hold down a Bixby button and start speaking to get the phone to send texts, change settings and make calls.
Does Samsung even understand how to launch a tech product? On Friday, the South Korean tech giant finally let customers sign up for preview access to the eagerly anticipated Bixby personal assistant, which was supposed to launch with its brand new Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 smartphones. The devices even include a dedicated Bixby button. SEE ALSO: Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8 prove you can never have too much screen Thus far, that button is only useful for access to Bixby Vision, which can identify some objects and products, and link you to shopping options. The real Bixby will be less like Apple's Siri and Google Assistant with their answers to general interest questions and maybe a little more like Amazon Alexa, with voice control for various devices.
Samsung said Thursday it was buying a prominent US artificial intelligence (AI) start-up founded by the creators of Siri -- the voice-based digital assistant used on the iPhones of arch-rival Apple. The South Korean giant said the acquisition of California-based Viv Labs would bolster voice-based services across the full range of its electronics products that include smartphones, TVs, refrigerators and washing machines. Samsung offered no details regarding the cost or financing of the deal. Viv Labs was co-founded in 2012 by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham who had previously created, and then sold, Siri to Apple. Rhee In-Jong, the chief technology officer at Samsung's mobile unit, said the acquisition would provide AI-based voice assistance services its customers can use across all Samsung devices and products.
Samsung Electronics Co. SSNHZ 0.00 % said Thursday that it will buy U.S. artificial intelligence company Viv Labs Inc., as the South Korean smartphone giant turns to the creators of Apple Inc. AAPL 0.04 % 's Siri service to beef up its own mobile software and services. The deal, for an undisclosed amount, is Samsung's fourth U.S. technology company acquisition in a little more than two years, underscoring the technology player's new willingness to look outside the company to spur innovation, particularly in areas like software, where it has traditionally been weak. The aim for Samsung is to pack its phones with more eye-popping features to help its premium devices stand out from a pack of competitors, including Apple's iPhones. After its acquisition last year of mobile payments startup LoopPayfor about 160 million, Samsung adopted the Burlington, Mass.-based company's technology to launch Samsung Pay, a mobile payment service that rivals Apple Pay. Samsung is looking to follow a similar model with San Jose, Calif.-based Viv Labs, which was founded four years ago by a team that includes Siri co-creators Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer.