Samsung Reveals New Bixby Interface and Features in Major Update
Samsung has officially announced plans to revamp the Bixby virtual assistant a little over a month after it quietly began releasing the update to some Samsung smartphones. The changes bring a new, simplified interface and several new features to Bixby, with an eye toward making Bixby more accessible and personalize the voice commands it suggests.
Bixby’s new look is all about discretion and consolidation. Talking to Bixby no longer requires all of the screen’s real estate. Bixby runs from a section at the bottom of the screen, with a horizontal bar and faded background letting the user know the voice assistant is listening. The app on the smartphone is condensed as well, with everything related to Bixby on a single home screen instead of using separate pages for the Bixby Capsules. Bixby is also keen to help people use its features more often, providing suggestions for commands based on popular trends. The AI can even track what a user has done before and provide ideas for things to do with Bixby that they might not realize are available.
“Using Bixby feels more personal in the latest update, as the service now offers customized voice command suggestions based on your usage patterns and other devices you have registered with Bixby, Samsung explained in its announcement. “With recommendations for a variety of apps and services, the new tailored experience helps you discover more ways to use Bixby and improve your Galaxy experience.”
The updated Bixby certainly confirms Samsung’s faith in the voice assistant. That matters more than it might normally after months of rumors that Samsung was dropping Bixby in favor of Google Assistant. Samsung shutting down Bixby Vision, the augmented reality feature of its voice assistant that can measure objects and simulate objects in a room, and reassigning the Bixby developer marketing team to other areas at the end of September didn’t help. And that news followed stories of other Bixby departures, including Voicebot’s exclusive report from July that Adam Cheyer, Viv Labs co-founder, and Samsung vice president leading Bixby development, had left the company.
Samsung’s public declaration that Bixby isn’t going anywhere feels much more justified now, but the company has been steadily adding new features and abilities to the voice assistant all year. Bixby expanded to older Galaxy smartphones that had previously used the now-shuttered S Voice digital assistant. Bixby’s new look follows the release of new features like celebrity voices and Bixby’s integration of Netflix. Not to mention Bixby-focused hardware in the form of the Galaxy Buds Live, bean-shaped earbuds built to take advantage of Bixby more than anything else.
Bixby already made it through a year of failure once, rebranding as Bixby 2.0, after the first iteration arrived, failed, and went through a revision and re-release. Making Bixby more accessible and investing in a big update like this bodes well for Samsung’s virtual assistant and keeps the rumors as just rumors.