After months of delays, Samsung’s highly-anticipated voice assistant, Bixby, is now up and running on the S8 and S8 Plus.
And with intelligent voice-recognition software, augmented reality tech and context-aware features, it’s got a lot to recommend it.
But what exactly does Bixby do? How’s it better than other voice assistants on the market? And does it really live up to all the hype?
Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
1) It’s ready to update right now on Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus
It’s been a long wait for S8 users,. It was after all way back in March when they were first promised a voice assistant so intuitive it would make it rivals look dumb.
Now, at long last, Bixby is available on the S8 and S8 Plus. All you need to do is swipe left from the home screen, or press the lower button on the left-hand side of the device, and you’ll be given the option to update to the latest version of Bixby.
Download it and within a couple of minutes, you’ll be good to go.
It will also be available on Samsung’s new Note 8 from launch. There hasn’t been any official word yet about whether or not Bixby will be rolled out to older Samsung devices, but we’ll keep you posted if we hear anything.
2) Voice recognition
First and foremost, Bixby is an intelligent voice assistant that’s said to be smarter than its rivals Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Now.
Bixby lets you control a vast array of features and functions using your voice instead of the touchscreen. And according to Samsung, it will be able to learn and understand your unique way of speaking and the regular phrases you use.
Even better, you can programme Bixby to perform multiple commands with a single phrase. So for example, you can get Bixby to turn on the Do Not Disturb mode, set your alarm for the following morning and enable the blue light filter, all when you say “Goodnight”.
Bixby is context-aware too, which means you can issue commands and conduct more realistic conversations with it than you can with Siri or Alexa.
So, if you have a photo up on your screen, for instance, you can ask Bixby to send the image to one of your contacts and it’ll know which image you’re referring to.
3) Bixby Vision
Bixby’s standout feature is undoubtedly Bixby Vision. It combines your smartphone camera with augmented reality tech to identify objects and search the internet for more information about them.
To get it to work, you just have to hit the Bixby Vision symbol in the top right-hand of the Bixby home screen and your camera will open. You’ll then be prompted to take a photo to find out more about the object you’re looking at.
So let’s suppose you’re out shopping and you want to find out more about a book you’re looking at, just take a photo of the cover and Bixby will look up the price, reviews, and recommendations for similar books.
Bixby Vision can also identify landmarks and tell you more about them, and it’ll translate foreign languages. All of which makes Bixby the essential travel companion for anyone who likes to holiday abroad.
4) Notifications and reminders
The Bixby home screen is a hub of useful information and serves up everything from the weather forecast to daily news headlines.
But there’s more to it than that. You can also add notifications and reminders to help you keep track of all the things you have to do in your day.
Even better, Bixby will actually learn from your behaviour to make sure you never forget to do something important, even if you don’t remember to set a reminder. Because Bixby lives within your native apps, it can remind you to pay your rent or suggest that you watch that video you’ve bookmarked on YouTube.
5) It works with some big third-party apps
Not only does Bixby work with many of Samsung’s own apps, it’s also compatible with many third-party applications.
Link it up to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and you’ll be able to share things on social media via voice commands alone.
At the moment, you can compose emails using Bixby, but you’ll need to type in the recipient yourself.
However, Samsung has said that it plans to keep adding to Bixby. So if you’re a Samsung user, you can hopefully look forward to an entirely hands-free future.