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What is Bixby? We take a look at Samsung's new virtual assistant, which arrives hot on the heels of the newly launched Galaxy S8.

Bixby is Samsung's take on the personal virtual assistant. Think Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant, but with a few extras thrown in. And while it's currently unavailable with the launch of the S8 (Samsung have estimated its release to around two to three months time) there are a few things we know about it. 

How do you use Samsung Bixby?

The language for operating one of these digital assistants is already well established, and Samsung sensibly adheres to these norms. There’s a hardware button you can long-press on the Galaxy S8’s left side to bring up Bixby, or you can say a 'wake word' to make it pop up. You can also teach the phone a phrase of your choice to activate Bixby.

Bixby Home

Bixby Home has now replaced Flipboard’s newsfeed on the Galaxy S8. With a swipe to the right from the home screen, a stream of information ranging from smart reminders for tasks you commonly carry out on your phone, to news and weather are displayed. Third-party apps such as Facebook or Uber can also display cards in Bixby Home.

Voice commands mimic touch commands

When using your voice to interact with Bixby, it will accept commands such as, 'Set screen brightness to 50 percent' or 'Show photos I took in Cape Town.' Samsung equates Bixby voice commands to touch actions, stating if you can do it with touch, you can do it with Bixby.

There will be a 'handful' of apps at launch

When it becomes available, Bixby will only work within Samsung apps – and a limited number of them at that (Samsung have yet to provide a full list of apps with which Bixby is compatible). The company has committed to regularly updating Bixby and adding more apps and capabilities over time. 

During the S8 launch announcement, Samsung demonstrated taking a screenshot and sending it as an attachment in a text message using Bixby. The company also announced Bixby will work with Google Play Music.

Bixby can control the camera

Using the camera app on the Galaxy S8, Bixby Vision is capable of five things:

  • Product search
  • Identifying places and landmarks
  • Translating text
  • Finding similar images
  • QR code and barcode reading

Just hold up your phone, wait for Bixby to scan an object or landmark, and tap on the proper button at the bottom of the display. Bixby will tell you what it is, and give you information about it, or recommendations, such as a highly rated restaurant nearby. 

Samsung has also incorporated technology from Pinterest Lens, which launched in beta last month. So any pic you take with your camera can be compared with Pinterest posts, giving you even more ideas or ways to replicate the look. Bixby, as Samsung has said, is all about context, and taking search to the next - visual - level. 

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