Bixby 2.0 gets Better AI & Takes on Alexa

If you have a new Samsung phone you’ll already know just how serious they are about their personal assistant. Bixby has a dedicated button and it can’t be remapped so you can use it to do something else like launch your most used app.

In our review of the Galaxy Note 8 we gave Bixby a passing grade, we found her useful for performing tasks directly related to the phone. She was better than Google’s Assistant at things like installing Spotify or open Google Play. We decided that for context situations like asking if I needed an umbrella or finding out how tall the empire state building was it was better to stick with Google.

It is early days for Bixby, Alexa, Google and Siri have been collecting data and refining algorithms for years. It’s hard to compete with these more mature ecosystems but with Bixby 2.0 is one step closer to what it’s competitors are bringing to the table.

In an interview with Thomas Ko VP, Global GM of Samsung Pay & Head of Service Strategy outlined some of the three core philosophies of Bixby.

Bixby is getting AI

This was expected as last year Samsung acquired Viv which is a Smart Assistant startup co-founded by the same team that was acquired by Apple in 2010 and was responsible for Siri. In 2012 the team left Apple and founded Viv which remains an independent company from Samsung but is providing services to their platform.

What makes Viv and interesting competitor in the Virtual Assistant game is its interconnected nature. Siri is only just starting to allow apps to start talking to each other to become links in a user’s command chain. This allows more conversational and complex queries that more closely resemble how people actually talk.The second is the programmatic nature of Viv’s which is AI is capable of writing its own code to accomplish new tasks. This concept isn’t new but we’ve been waiting for someone to really start showing results. Once they’re successful the assistant will be able to handle tasks on the fly, even if it’s never heard that particular one in the past. This is why the Bixby button is not reprogrammable, the number of queries to achieve this level of learning must be enormous. And Samsung keeps hammering home, Data has replaced Oil as the worlds most valuable commodity.

The second is the programmatic nature of Viv’s which is AI is capable of writing its own code to accomplish new tasks. This concept isn’t new but we’ve been waiting for someone to really start showing results. Once they’re successful the assistant will be able to handle tasks on the fly, even if it’s never heard that particular one in the past. This is why the Bixby button is not reprogrammable, the number of queries to achieve this level of learning must be enormous. And Samsung keeps hammering home, Data has replaced Oil as the worlds most valuable commodity.

Bixby moves off the phone to IoT devices offering Context-Aware Personalization.

Bixby will be able to live on Samsung plethora of connected home devices like TVs and Fridges. These types of devices are shared devices which is quite different to the Smartphone which is a personal device. Context-Aware Personalization means understanding what device it’s being accessed on and who is accessing that device.

Becoming device agnostic means that the Bixby engine will live in the cloud.

Bixby SDK

Bixby 2.0 is being announced at Samsung’s Developer Conference in San Francisco, and the SDK will now be made available to developers in a closed beta program in which you can apply to join.

Bixby 2.0 starts to make sense when we look at their plan to democratize IoT, Samsung is unifying Smart Connect, a Smartphone app for connecting appliances; SmartThings their smarthome hardware platform and ARTIK which is their IoT platform under one umbrella called SmartThings. This was meant to emphasize their commitment to an open and ubiquitous platform.

Travel expenses to attend SDC were provided by Samsung, all thoughts and ideas are my own.