Almost a full three months after the initial launch, Samsung has today announced that after a beta trial, the Bixby Voice component of their virtual assistant is now available for everyone in the US for people using the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
Bixby will be arriving on handsets in the US via a software update which will be made available from today through US carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and U.S. Cellular. Once the update is downloaded and applied, the so-far useless Bixby button will apparently get useful – at least according to Samsung.
The Bixby voice assistant is more aimed at making functions of the phone more accessible to users than answering queries from the internet. Samsung describes Bixby’s functions as:
- Bixby hears you. Bixby is designed to assist you in completing tasks no matter how you describe them because Bixby will work with you to understand and find the answer or get the task done. Bixby can learn about you and your routine. Using deep learning, Bixby will also improve over time to recognize the different preferences and ways of speaking of a user.
- Bixby helps you. Bixby is fully integrated into native apps and will be integrated into select third-party apps, and makes it easier to find and use their best features. And with Bixby, you can navigate your phone how you like—with voice, touch, or by switching seamlessly between the two.
- Bixby handles it for you. Bixby completes multi-app, complex requests—like grouping pictures from your latest vacation, and sending them to your friends. And if Bixby doesn’t understand a step, it will complete as much of the task as possible, rather than not even starting.
After reports that Samsung was having issues getting enough ‘big data’ to properly train Bixby, paired with reports of lacklustre performance in real-world use, it remains to be seen exactly how useful Bixby will be. Samsung has certainly pushed the point with update after update squashing hacks allowing users to remap the hardware Bixby button to an actual useful function. Samsung is trying to fix this by encouraging users to use Bixby with incentives:
Bixby users will earn experience points (XPs) the more they use Bixby, when sending a message, making a call, updating settings or giving feedback. Starting today through September 14, 2017, users can convert XPs into Samsung Rewards points that are accumulated to try to win prizes such as Samsung products, gift cards, trips, and more.
At this stage there’s no update on when we will be seeing Bixby being made available here in Australia, but we have reached out to Samsung Australia to see if they have any comment.