Samsung’s new digital assistant Bixby will debut on Galaxy S8, later expand to TVs and appliances


Samsung says it will release its own voice assistant, rivaling the Alexas and Siris of the world, with the Galaxy S8 smartphone.

A leaked photo of the Samsung Galaxy S8. (Twitter Photo Via Evan Blass)

The new digital assistant, known as Bixby, will beat out the competition, Samsung said in a blog post Monday, because it will be able to interpret and process incomplete information and perform pretty much every task in an app via voice commands. Currently, Samsung said, voice assistants can only pick a small variety of functions within an app and are mostly unable to understand context, so the information in a request has to be spot on.

So why is Samsung jumping into a crowded and competitive marketplace where some of the world’s biggest tech leaders are jockeying for control? The answer it turns out is that smartphones and other devices are getting so advanced that they are becoming too hard to operate.

“Technology is supposed to make life easier, but as the capabilities of machines such as smartphones, PCs, home appliances and IoT devices become more diverse, the interfaces on these devices are becoming too complicated for users to take advantage of many of these functions conveniently,” Samsung wrote in its blog post.

Every new device or interface a person has in front of them carries a steep learning curve. And very few people use technology to its full extent, the company claims. Samsung thinks Bixby can serve as a liaison of sorts between the user and the high level of technology that goes into smartphones.

Samsung’s aims to remove points of friction between users and its digital assistant. For example, instead of having a wake up word that activates Bixby, Samsung plans to install a dedicated button on the side of the phone.

Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S8 next week, and rumors peg the release for April. When it comes out, the phone will have several Bixby-enabled apps. Samsung says it plans to open up the digital assistant to third party developers in the future.

Bixby will debut on the Galaxy S8, but Samsung has plans to expand it to everything from TVs to appliances.

“As the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life,” according to the blog post.

Top Stories

Q&A with Topgolf’s CEO about the popular sports entertainment company and a possible Seattle location

Golf isn’t the most popular sport, but Topgolf is certainly doing its part to change that perception. The growing sports entertainment company operates more than 30 driving-range-meets-bowling-alley entertainment facilities — with 11 more soon to open — that feature 6-person hitting bays with microchipped trackable golf balls, along with food, drink, TV screens, free WiFi, and much more. Technology is a key part of the Topgolf experience — from the balls with RFID chips to the Protracer cameras — and that’s why we’re excited to hear from Topgolf co-chairman and CEO Erik Anderson at the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit on June 21-22 in Seattle at CenturyLink Field. Anderson, who… Read More
  • 4 days ago
  • 14

GeekWire Deals: Tackle your business plan with the simple, visual Roadmap Planner

Running a business is complicated. When you’re at the helm of strategy, finances, and vision, it can feel like you’re spending more time planning than actually doing. Tasks like this require serious organization, and that’s exactly what today’s GeekWire Deals offer will provide. It’s time to upgrade from a mess of Post-it notes and recruit Roadmap Planner. This project management mastermind brings everything into one easy-to-navigate digital calendar, with all the tagging and color-coding you need to stay on-track. Visualize your current state, your future goals, and all the progress you make along the way. Share easily with team members… Read More
  • 4 days ago
  • 12

Echodyne gets a $29M boost from NEA, Bill Gates and others for low-cost radar

Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen are among the investors putting another $29 million into Echodyne, the Intellectual Ventures spin-out that’s developing low-cost, miniaturized radar systems for drones and self-driving cars. Echodyne founder and CEO Eben Frankenberg said the Series B funding round was led by New Enterprise Associates, or NEA, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Gates, Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group, the Kresge Foundation and Allen’s Vulcan Capital are among the investors following up on their participation in 2014’s $15 million Series A round, Frankenberg told GeekWire. He declined to say how the new investment affects the valuation of the… Read More
  • 3 days ago
  • 12

How Jeff Bezos’ passion for space is inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and explorers

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos visited the Museum of Flight this weekend to answer questions from students, the kids did not hold back. “That’s one of the great things about kids,” Bezos said on Saturday. “There are always questions.” Scores of elementary-school and middle-school students came from the Seattle area as well as from Deer Park, a city just north of Spokane on the other side of the state, to cram into the museum’s “Apollo” exhibit and meet America’s second-richest person (after Bill Gates). The kids asked about Bezos’ successful expedition to recover sunken rocket engines from the Apollo moon missions, about his… Read More
  • 4 days ago
  • 12

Apple and Nokia bury the hatchet

Lawsuits get settled, but what about the companies wielding Nokia patents?
  • 2 days ago
  • 11

Latest in Technology

Working Geek: Paul Allen’s climate change guru Spencer Reeder moonlights as a musician

It’s easy to see why Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen brought on Spencer Reeder to run Vulcan’s climate change-focused philanthropic initiatives. Reeder holds two engineering degrees, he’s done geophysical field research in Central Asia, South America, and Antarctica, and he’s held environment-focused roles in academia, government, and tech. But it probably didn’t hurt Reeder’s chances when Allen found out they share another passion besides environmental protection: music. Reeder’s band, Emergency Volcano Evacuation Route recently performed at Paul Allen’s Upstream Music Fest + Summit earlier this month. Music is one of his many passions, including climbing, skiing, trail running, and competitive ultimate frisbee. His day… Read More
  • 51 minutes ago

Bulletproof, the lifestyle startup fueled by butter-coffee, gets a $19M jolt of new funding

Bulletproof 360, the Bellevue, Wash.-based lifestyle brand with a focus on “clean coffee” and other high-performance food and drinks, has gotten another jolt in its quest to get people to “live better.” The startup has raised $19 million in a new round of funding. In the backyard of coffee giant Starbucks, Bulletproof founder and CEO Dave Asprey is the man behind the movement, mixing coffee and butter to promote brain power. “People really do feel different when they have Bulletproof coffee,” Asprey told GeekWire in 2015, after his company raised $9 million in its initial round of funding. “Part of… Read More
  • 51 minutes ago

In a throwback to the ’90s, NTFS bug lets anyone hang or crash Windows 7, 8.1

It's like the c:\con\con bug all over again.
  • 52 minutes ago

Florida GOP consultant admits he worked with Guccifer 2.0, analyzing hacked data

Voting models, other data were “worth millions,” consultant told Guccifer 2.0.
  • 54 minutes ago

Steve Ballmer says potential income tax in Seattle would cause ‘unfavorable business climate’

Seattle is the fastest-growing big city across the U.S., but a potential new income tax would sway folks away from the area and negatively affect its bustling business ecosystem. That’s what Steve Ballmer told KIRO Radio this week, with the former Microsoft CEO noting how an income tax, which is currently moving through city council and would target Seattle’s wealthiest residents, could cause an “unfavorable business climate.” Ballmer said the income tax would “cause people to think about moving jobs elsewhere” away from Seattle, which he described as “a center of talent in the tech industry.” Ballmer also opposed a proposed statewide income tax, I-1098, in 2010.… Read More
  • 2 hours ago

Proposed bill reportedly could let the government take over and search drones

In a dystopian episode of “Black Mirror,” a hacker tracked and seized control of robotic bees, and the Trump administration is reportedly looking into ways to do that with drones. But instead of targeting unpopular people, this plan aims to bring down the drones. According to Recode, administration officials and congressional staff members are discussing legislation that lays out a four-step plan: First, identify or track the drone to see if it’s a threat. If so, take control. Then damage or disrupt the drone and its payload (like an SD card, for example). Finally, conduct research on it. The move comes less than… Read More
  • 2 hours ago

Farewell, Bachman: ‘Silicon Valley’ star T.J. Miller is leaving the HBO comedy after this season

Curl up in your bathrobe and hold that bong rip a few extra seconds for this news: T.J. Miller, the actor who portrays entrepreneurial tech doofus Erlich Bachman on “Silicon Valley,” will not be returning to the HBO comedy next season, it was announced Thursday. Interview: T.J. Miller on startup culture, women in tech, Elon Musk, and weed The comedian has starred for four seasons on the show, as the owner of a house which served as the “incubator” for Pied Piper, the fictional company at the center of the weekly send-up on the tech community and personalities that circulate… Read More
  • 3 hours ago

Identity-theft victims ask FCC to clean up fake anti-net neutrality comments

FCC should investigate and throw out fake comments, impersonation victims say.
  • 3 hours ago

Tech Moves: Amperity adds former Facebook engineering leader; Ex-Amazon talent director joins Outreach; and more

Dave Fetterman has had what you might call an illustrious career. He earned two degrees from Harvard, spent his first two years out of college as a software design engineer at Microsoft and then joined Facebook as one of the company’s first employees in 2006. Now Fetterman has made another jump to join Seattle-based Amperity, a stealthy startup working on machine learning marketing solutions. Fetterman is now serving as Amperity’s VP of engineering at its headquarters in Seattle. In the role, he will be responsible for all aspects of the company’s engineering team. Amperity co-founder and CEO Kabir Shahani told GeekWire via email… Read More
  • 4 hours ago

We tried the new AmazonFresh Pickup service in Seattle, and this is what happened

Amazon launched its new AmazonFresh Pickup grocery service to Amazon Prime members at two Seattle locations this morning, and GeekWire jumped at the opportunity to be the first people outside of the company’s own employees to try it out. Watch the video below, and continue reading for details. The concept is simple: Order your groceries online and pick them up in a designated time window at the AmazonFresh Pickup location. And the experience was, in fact, largely seamless for me, and it promises to be even faster next time as long as I’m able to give up a bit of our privacy by letting Amazon store my license plate. I started… Read More
  • 4 hours ago

Spin cycle maker Peloton set to open Seattle-area showroom, hits $1B valuation

Peloton, the freshly-minted unicorn company that makes $2,000 high-tech spin bikes, is opening up a showroom in the Seattle area. According to the company’s website, the showroom will be in the Bellevue Square Mall. Peloton is hosting a launch party for the new studio June 8. Peloton just closed a $325 million Series F funding round, at a $1.25 billion valuation, led by Wellington Management, Fidelity Investments, Kleiner Perkins and True Ventures, with participation from GGV Capital and Comcast NBCUniversal. Wall Street Journal cited Brian Smith, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, who expects the value of the health and fitness market… Read More
  • 5 hours ago

NASA’s Juno orbiter maps Jupiter’s super cyclones and monstrous magnetism

NASA’s Juno orbiter has been sending back stunning pictures of Jupiter for months, but now the mission’s scientists are sharing their first peer-reviewed findings about the planet’s previously unseen polar storms and powerful magnetic field. “The results from Juno’s initial close passes of Jupiter are understanding of this gas giant,” the Juno science team, led by principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute, reports in the journal Science. Bolton and his colleagues laid out those results today in a set of papers published by Science and Geophysical Research Letters, and in a NASA audio teleconference. Jupiter has been previously studied… Read More
  • 5 hours ago