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Samsung Bixby: 7 things to know about the personal assistant

Samsung's new personal assistant made its debut on the Galaxy S8, but now it's expanding to more devices and in functionality.

Joshua Goldman/CNET
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Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant have a new frenemy. Samsung's Bixby is a personal assistant that comes with the Samsung Galaxy S8Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, and Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Here are 7 things we currently know about the mysterious assistant.

It's mobile only... for now

Bixby made its debut on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, followed by the Note 8. However, Samsung has committed to bringing Bixby to more devices, such as a dedicated smart speaker, televisions, and its smart fridge

If you own an older Galaxy phone, you'll need to upgrade in order to gain Bixby.

Opening Bixby is super easy

You have a few different options to open Bixby. On the left side of any of the compatible phones, just below the volume buttons, is a dedicated Bixby button. A quick press of the button will launch Bixby, a long-press opens Bixby Home. The third method to access Bixby is through the camera app.

You can also summon Bixby using your voice, with the wake word of "Hey Bixby," naturally enough.

There's also Bixby Home

Flipboard's newsfeed is gone, replaced by Bixby Home on phones. 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 on a phone

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 San Francisco."

Samsung equates Bixby voice commands to touch actions, stating if you can do it with touch, you can do it with Bixby. For example, you can begin composing a message via touch, but send it with your voice by launching Bixby with a long-press and saying "Send."

Bixby can identify things with the camera

Using the camera app on a phone, Bixby Vision is capable identifying things in the real world, much like Google Lens. Currently, Bixby can identify six things:

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

With the camera open, hold up your phone, wait for Bixby to scan an object or landmark, tap the Bixby button and let your phone work its magic.

You can ask for random facts

When Bixby first launched it wasn't good at answering random questions like "How tall is Mount Everest?" or "How old is Donald Trump?" Bixby has come a long way since then and is now capable of answering a lot of questions on the fly. After asking it a series of trivia-like questions, I'd say Bixby is getting close to being as good as Google Assistant. 

Bixby 2.0 is on the way

The second iteration of Bixby will show up on all sorts of appliances and gadgets around the home. As previously mentioned, Samsung has already shown Bixby integrated into its smart fridge and a TV. Depending on the device, Bixby will work a bit differently. For example, using Bixby on a smart fridge will help you come up with recipes based on what ingredients you have. Bixby on a TV will learn what you watch over time, and begin making suggestions of what to watch next or automatically playing a show when you turn on the TV.

Update, January 17: This post was originally published on March 29, and has been updated with new features and news.