After much delay, Samsung has begun rolling out its Bixby smart assistant to users in the U.S. The company said today that an update will allow owners of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ to gain voice capabilities for the service.
Bixby is the Korean phone maker’s take on Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but it didn’t ship with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ when the phones launched in March. Instead, the firm shipped a limited “preview” of the service in June.
Now, however, those lucky users in the U.S. will be able to navigate their device, make calls, set tasks and more using their voice thanks to Bixby.
“Almost anything you could do with touch or typing, you can now do with your voice,” Samsung said of the new capabilities for Bixby, adding that third-party support will come next.
There’s a lot hanging on that. Samsung went to the trouble of adding a dedicated Bixby button to the S8 phones, and how it is embraced by makers of other apps and owners of other services will be the key if it is to graduate from voice assistant to intelligent assistant as rival services are doing.
For now though, we’ll have to wait. There’s not even word on when Bixby will expand its language support beyond English — which is also open to users in Samsung’s native Korea, but Korean isn’t. More language options is a key move to globalize the service, and give other ventures — Samsung is reported to be looking into a Bixby-powered speaker — the potential to take-off. Today’s update is very much the first step of a long journey.