That the future will be voice enabled artificial intelligent bots is not in question. Neither is which one we’ll end up using. Amazon has Alexa. Microsoft has Cortana. Google has Assistant. Apple has Siri.
Now, Samsung has Bixby, a new mobile assistant for Samsung devices that the company says is fundamentally different than other such competitors.
Uh huh. Let’s see.
Confusion around activating a voice interface is a barrier we have removed to make it feel easier and more comfortable to give commands. For example, instead of taking multiple steps to make a call — turning on and unlocking the phone, looking for the phone application, clicking on the contact bar to search for the person that you’re trying to call, and pressing the phone icon to start dialing — you will be able to do all these steps with one push of the Bixby button and a simple command.
That’s from InJong Rhee, Samsung’s head of R&D which produced Bixby. Maybe Samsung didn’t copy anything at all from Apple this time. To do the same thing on my iPhone I say, “Hey, Siri… call Wil.” Siri dials Wil.” Same thing for mom or dad or a bunch of friends and co-workers in my contact list. No buttons.
Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby. As the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life.
That’s beginning to sound more like all the other artificially intelligent bots already on the market. They’re not that smart. They perform specified actions (which tend to be somewhat different between each competitor). And the promise is they’ll get better over time.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 launch will include a number of pre-installed applications that are Bixby-enabled, and sometime in the future there will be a software development kit so developers can make Bixby work for their apps.
Samsung says Bixby-enabled apps will be more context aware so that they understand exactly what the user is trying to do and will also be able to understand and execute a user-actioned voice command even if the speaker doesn’t use the full command form with the words in the right order. In fact, Bixby may even “prompt users to provide more information” when required. Samsung calls this “cognitive tolerance.”
Let’s put some of this in perspective. Most of Samsung’s smartphones use Android, which features Google Assistant, while Microsoft Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa run on other devices, including Samsung’s so there’s little to differentiate a Samsung device from run-of-the-mill Android devices.
So, Samsung does what it always does. It copies. In this case, it copied by buying out the folks who made Siri for Apple, and a year or two later introduced a knockoff AI bot with a different name that already does less than every other such gadget bot.
This will be fun to watch. All these AI bots are infants at best.