To take on Siri and Alexa, Samsung Electronics, the South Korean consumer electronics giant, has announced its Bixby 2.0, a reinvention of its digital assistant platform.
In a blog post during the company’s developer conference held in San Francisco, Eui-Suk Chung, executive vice president and head of service intelligence of mobile communications business at Samsung Electronics, said Bixby 2.0 will be a “fundamental leap forward for digital assistants and represents another important milestone to transform our digital lives.”
Arguing that while the virtual assistants of today are useful, Chung said they will play a limited role in people’s lives since most use it to set timers or reminders and answer questions. What Samsung sees with Bixby 2.0 is a virtual assistant that will play an “intelligent” role in everything from phones to sprinkler systems. According to Chung, Bixby, which was launched when Samsung rolled out the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ earlier this year, was just the start for what the company’s virtual assistant will be able to do. The first iteration of Bixby is available in more than 200 countries and has more than 10 million registered users.
“Bixby 2.0 will be ubiquitous, available on any and all devices,” said Chung. “This means having the intelligence of Bixby, powered by the cloud, act as the control hub of your device ecosystem, including mobile phones, TVs, refrigerators, home speakers or any other connected technology you can imagine. Soon, developers will be able to put their services on any and all devices and will not have to reinvent their services each time they support a new device.”
What’s more, Bixby will have enhanced natural language capabilities, more natural commands and complex processing so it can know and understand the user and his or her family members. Finally, Chung noted, the platform will be open so developers can create uses for the virtual assistant. Samsung recently announced its first private beta program with Bixby SDK, which will be available for select developers.
The move on the part of Samsung to overhaul Bixby comes as it has failed to make much of an inroad into the voice-activated speaker market. Amazon is still leading with its Echos powered by Alexa and, on the mobile front, Apple has been in the lead with Siri. Bixby also faces competition from Microsoft, Alibaba and Google.