Samsung's voice assistant has literally thousands of things you can do. We pick out the most useful.
Jason CiprianiContributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Watch this: Samsung's virtual assistant Bixby Voice is here
Bixby Voice is a mixture of a personal assistant you can ask questions and command to set reminders, and an automation tool you can instruct to open apps, tap on buttons and enter text without touching your phone.
If that sounds confusing, that's because it is. It's certainly different from what we've grown accustomed to from Google's Assistant and Apple's
, but it's also more powerful.
After setting up and getting started with
's Bixby Voice service, the list of commands the company throws at you in the tutorial can be overwhelming. Not only that but when you dig into the Settings section to find command suggestions, you're shown what seems like a never ending list of options. I mean, look at this screenshot -- that's roughly 75 percent of the commands available for the S8's Gallery app alone.
Instead of offering up the complete list of Bixby commands, dear readers, we thought it would be better to show you where to find the complete list on your phone and then highlight some of the more useful commands.
Keep in mind, Bixby Voice can also do the standard assistant commands such as place a call, or create a calendar event or reminder. We tried to highlight the more interesting features.
Find the complete list
Open the Bixby home feed then tap on the menu button in the top-right corner followed by Voice Apps and Services. Scroll through the list of apps Bixby currently supports, then tap on one to open its respective list.
As Samsung continues to improve Bixby Voice, adding more commands and supported apps or services, this list is updated.
But wait, there's more: Open the menu and select My Bixby to view your current Bixby level -- level up and you unlock themes and eventually cash in Samsung Pay. If you scroll down you can view more examples.
Now that you have thousands upon thousands of commands at your fingertips, let's focus on some of the more useful ones.
"Hi, Bixby open [app name]." In general, that's how the majority of your interactions with Bixby will start. Whether it's "Open Messages and text my wife," or, "Open Gmail and show me all unread emails from my boss." Remember, instead of "Hi, Bixby," you can hold down the Bixby button on the left side of the phone.
Since Bixby Voice is designed to mimic taps and swipes on your phone's display, you can use it to scroll up or down, or swipe in any direction.
Using Bixby to navigate seems like overkill at first, but if you're using the phone with one hand while holding something in the other, using Bixby to navigate and move around within apps or scroll through an article is sure to be handy. Here are some navigation commands to try:
"Scroll to the top"
"Scroll to the bottom"
"Show the home screen"
Bixby Voice goes beyond turning Wi-Fi or Bluetooth off. Using a quick command you can control very specific settings of your phone. Here are some examples:
"Disconnect from the current Wi-Fi network in Settings"
"Scan for Bluetooth devices in Settings"
"Make my phone visible to other devices in Settings"
"Show me my data usage in Settings"
"Turn on data limit"
"Turn on mobile hotspot in Settings"
"Change sound mode to vibrate"
"Turn on/off Do Not Disturb"
"Show me Notification settings for [app name]"
Bixby can also answer questions similar to how Siri or Google Assistant can, but you have to open an app first.
Samsung included a Q&A app with Bixby for your questions: Start with "Open Q&A," then ask away.
The next time you're talking with someone and they recommend an app, have Bixby install it for you.
"Open the Play Store and install the CNET app" will launch the Play Store, search for the CNET app, and automatically install it. If there are multiple results and Bixby isn't sure which one you want to install, you'll have to manually select it.
Alternatively, you can tell Bixby, "Download the CNET app from the Play Store" and achieve the same result.
Quickly share a screenshot
Bixby can take a screenshot of whatever is on your screen then bring up the share menu, or if you'd rather skip the share sheet, you can specify it in the voice command itself.
"Take a screenshot and share it"
"Take a screenshot and send it with Messages to [contact name]"
Using the Google Play Music app or Pandora (or any future supported Bixby Labs apps -- Spotify isn't on the list at time of writing) you can use Bixby to control your tunes. Here are some useful commands:
"Stop the music"
"Play next song"
"Start this song over"
"What's the name of this song?"
"Whose song is this?"
"Set sleep timer for X minutes"
"Show new releases"
"Play [artist/genre] radio station in [Play Music/Pandora]"
Want to close a recently used app? Or all open apps? Activate split-screen with a specific app? Bixby's got your back.
"Open [app name] in split-screen view"
"Show my recent apps"
"Close [app name]"
"Close all recent apps"
"Open this app as a pop-up"
Bixby will read your notifications out loud, or clear notifications you don't care about with these commands:
"Real all notifications in notification panel"
"Read all [app name] notifications in notification panel"
"Read the latest notification in notification panel"
"Show me all notifications"
Forget buying some sort of Bluetooth shutter button, your voice is the remote shutter when using Bixby. Here are some helpful commands for Bixby voice:
"Change the camera mode to [mode name]"
"Take a picture"
"Take a selfie"
"Set the timer for the rear camera to 10 seconds"
"Apply an effect"
The way you have to talk to Bixby can be tedious at times. To help you be more efficient, Bixby Voice allows you to create quick commands. Basically, you take a specific command, e.g. "Open Play Music and play [artist name]," and create your own, shorter command.
Open the menu in the Bixby app and tap My Bixby. Scroll down until you see QuickCommands and tap on it. Pick which command you want to use from the list of recent commands, then record your personalized Quick Command.
Be more efficient with Gmail
Gmail commands are something I'm still trying to get the hang of, but I can see them being incredibly useful.
Start with basic commands such as, "Open Gmail and show me unread messages," and then progress to commands such as, "Show the last email from [contact name] that has an attachment."
If an app is open when you summon Bixby, any commands you give will stay specific to that app. For example, if you have
Messenger open and tell Bixby to send a message, it will assume you want to do so in Facebook Messenger.
Developers don't need to integrate with Bixby's commands in order to work. Instead, you have to learn what actions are called within apps.
As another example, the Twitter app Flamingo isn't officially supported by Bixby, but when using the app I can compose a new tweet and if it's ready to be posted, I can tell Bixby, "Tweet." (The name of the button to post a new tweet is actually "Tweet." If it was "submit" or "send" you'd use that instead, because Bixby can read the command names.)
Update, August 2:Previously published on July 19, this article has been updated with new commands.