Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby is finally getting Voice support for the English language. The company’s digital assistant made its debut alongside the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ (Review). While the features of the assistant were limited at launch, Bixby Voice has been available in the US as a part of an opt-in beta test. Now, Bixby Voice in English is out of beta and available to all Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users in the US.
To recall, Bixby Voice has been available in South Korea for a while now but only supported the Korean language. Samsung has been working on English support for Bixby voice for quite some time now and was rumoured to go live by the end of June.
Samsung says that to get started, Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users in the US will need to press the dedicated Bixby button to begin the onboarding process, and once the software is updated, they can press the Bixby button or speak the “Hi Bixby” voice command. The Bixby update will be available starting for Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Cellular.
The company adds that Bixby users will earn experience points (XPs) the more they use Bixby, when sending a message, making a call, updating settings or giving feedback. The points they earn until September 14 can be converted into Samsung Rewards points that can be redeemed against Samsung products, gift cards, trips, and more.
Just like the Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, Bixby can handle voice commands to set alarms and send text messages. But what gives Bixby the edge is its ability to access granular phone settings and to move through several screens to perform the requested action. Bixby voice commands are also supported by pre-installed apps like Gallery, Contacts, Phone, Settings and the stock Camera app.
Bixby Voice capabilities will be available for third-party apps on a opt-in basis for now, via Bixby Labs. Only a few apps are supported right now, including Google Maps, Google Play Music, YouTube, and Facebook. Samsung adds that it has plans to "continuously expand to support additional languages, features, third-party apps and devices."
Samsung says that Bixby should get better with usage as deep learning helps it learn the user’s preference and speech patterns. The South Korean consumer electronics giant tells The Verge that over 100,000 users of the two flagship devices enrolled themselves in the beta program and issued over 4 million voice commands to Bixby. This helped Samsung to improve Bixby’s response time, its understanding of different phrases and improve hands-free operations among others.