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article imageSamsung starts rolling out Bixby Voice in the U.S.

By James Walker     Jul 19, 2017 in Technology
Samsung has announced that the rollout of Bixby Voice in the U.S. has now commenced, allowing Galaxy S8 owners to start interacting with the digital assistant using their voice. The feature was delayed from the device's launch due to ongoing issues.
Bixby is a headline feature of the Galaxy S8's software. The contextually-aware digital assistant has been developed to rival Google Assistant and Siri. Samsung's planning an ecosystem of products around the AI and plans to use it to unify its range.
Today, Bixby's voice capabilities are finally rolling out in the U.S. Previously available only in South Korea, they allow you to interact with the assistant using voice commands. The functionality has been delayed from the Galaxy S8's launch as Samsung has struggled to get Bixby recognising English voices. After launching a beta earlier this month, the company is now confident that Bixby's proficiency in English will satisfy consumers.
Bixby's voice commands offer a range of everyday functions that are staples of rival assistants. You can ask Bixby to set reminders, search for photos, browse the web or perform hardware actions, such as taking a photo or turning on the flashlight.
Bixby's integrated with a selection of Samsung's preinstalled apps. The company's keen for users to come to rely on Bixby instead of the touchscreen. By being connected to a range of apps, the assistant can complete multi-step procedures that span the software installed on the phone. The company said "almost anything you could do with touch or typing, you can now do with your voice."
The success of this concept will rely on whether third-party app developers get involved. Samsung's currently staying quiet on the state of the Bixby ecosystem. It did mention that support for some additional third-party apps will be offered via Bixby Labs, the company's area for developing experimental Bixby extensions. The Labs website warns "experiments might not always work out just right."
While Bixby's launch today is significant for Samsung, there's clearly still a lot of work ahead for the company. It has ambitions of developing a new platform around Bixby, becoming a service provider to rival Apple and Google.
Its recently leaked plan to build a Bixby-based smart speaker may already have been shelved though – according to reports today, the company has decided to abandon its efforts and "take a wait-and-see attitude."
Undeterred by the problems behind the scenes, Samsung is publicly optimistic about Bixby's future. It claimed in bold marketing statements today that Bixby will become a new "interface for your life."
"At Samsung, we are dedicated to creating the best possible user experience for our customers. That's why we designed Bixby – it's an intelligent interface that allows you to do more things with your phone," said Samsung Executive Vice President of Mobile Injong Rhee. "As the Bixby ecosystem grows, it will use its completeness, context awareness and cognitive tolerance to evolve from a smartphone interface to the interface for your life."
READ NEXT: Samsung is planning its own Bixby-powered smart speaker
Bixby is available from today to Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners in the U.S. The app update should roll out automatically. It can be installed manually by heading to the Play Store and checking for updates.
Bixby Voice is only supported when the system language is set to Korean or U.S. English. There's no word on when Bixby will expand to other dialects. Based on the delays leading up to the U.S. launch, don't expect a worldwide version to be offered anytime soon.
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