There were many new upgrades on hand to talk about as Samsung rolled out its latest of its flagship phones — the Galaxy Note 9. The new the screen is bigger, the signature S Pen does more tricks than it ever has, and the battery is largest Samsung has ever put into a phone. The new model also builds Samsung’s DeX software directly into the phone — no dock required — so you can plug it into any external display for a desktop-like experience.
To go along with its new super-sized display offering, the new Note also comes with a fairly super-sized price tag. The a 128GB/6GB RAM version of the Note 9 will retail for $999. The top-tier 512GB/8GB RAM, on the other hand, will sell for $1,250.
But for all the changes that are coming soon with the phone, among the more eye-catching are the upgrades coming to Bixby — Samsung’s personal assistant — as it rolls out with the new phone. The Bixby button, familiar from the last major Samsung launch, will still called the AI forward — though it will report for duty with more function built in.
The new Bixby, according to Samsung, will come out of the box more able understand human languages, better at predicting users’ wants and quicker at delivering results. During a demonstration of Bixby’s new skills at an industry event, Samsung demonstrated how the personal assistant is now better able to keep the thread of a conversation: a user can ask, “what concerts are happening nearby during Labor Day weekend?” and, after getting their answer, can then modify their question to, “what about the first week of October?” without having to remind Bixby what they are talking about.
Bixby will also be able to make recommendations for its users based on its “observation” of the users’ previous behavior. If the user asks for a restaurant recommendation, for example, the AI that backs Bixby will use reservations one has made in the past to guide what it shows its operator.
And, while making dining reservations, Bixby will autofill in fields like time and number of people in your party also based on previous inputs. The update will also allow users to call Uber rides or browse nearby events.
Will customers like the new Bixby? Well, they will likely like it more than Bixby 1.0 — but that is because they almost have to, given that the first version of the Samsung AI assistant was not terribly popular.
Whether new Bixby does well enough to race with Alexa, the Google Home Assistant or even Siri? That remains to be seen.