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article imageSamsung is planning its own Bixby-powered smart speaker

By James Walker     Jul 5, 2017 in Technology
Samsung is reportedly developing its own smart speaker as it looks towards the smart home. The device will be powered by the company's Bixby assistant and will rival the Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and Google Home. Development is still ongoing.
Bixby isn't yet available in the U.S. but that isn't deterring Samsung from making it the centre of its ecosystem. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal today, plans for a Bixby-powered smart speaker have been in the works for at least a year. Samsung wants to be a major player in the next technological battleground: your living room.
The speaker is codenamed Vega and is being prepared at a rate set by Bixby itself. Samsung is known to be struggling to get U.S. voice input functioning. The assistant launched on the company's flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone without voice commands. After initially saying the feature would arrive in May, a "preview" of Bixby's assistant features was delivered last month.
The difficulties faced by the teams responsible for Bixby's global rollout are hindering the development of Vega. According to the Wall Street Journal, many of the speaker's features "are yet to be decided."
While Vega's almost certain to come with all the usual smart speaker capabilities, Samsung will be aiming to add a differentiating factor to prevent consumers purchasing an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Its Bixby-based ecosystem is meant to offer an alternative to Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant. However, Bixby is currently defined by its lack of support for the English language, leaving Samsung unable to design products around it.
One potential strong point of Vega could be its speaker hardware. Samsung now owns Harman Kardon, giving it access to the company's expertise in sound systems. Sound quality is a stumbling point of existing smart speakers and something only Apple has tried to directly combat. Harman Kardon already has its own smart speaker though, the Cortana-powered Invoke that's been developed in partnership with Microsoft.
Timing for the launch of Vega is said to be "far from determined." With little known about the speaker and its internal specifications still to be confirmed, it could be a while before more information becomes available.
Bixby itself is still continuing its slow journey towards a U.S. launch. According to The Wall Street Journal, Samsung's now targeting a full release sometime during July. The window "could still be altered again" though, leaving Galaxy S8 users reliant on Google Assistant for a little while longer.
More about Samsung, Bixby, smart speakers, Smart home, IoT
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