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Samsung Reveals How Bixby Will Evolve with Galaxy AI

It’s been a big year for virtual assistants. Apple, Google, and OpenAI have all announced improvements to their Siri, Gemini, and ChatGPT digital assistants in recent months that will allow them to understand additional context and sound more natural. Samsung, meanwhile, has been relatively quiet about its Bixby voice assistant while stoking excitement around Galaxy AI, its collection of AI-powered software features for Galaxy devices.

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But Samsung has big plans for Bixby, according to Patrick Chomet, the company’s executive vice president and head of customer experience. In the future, Bixby will understand much more than simple voice commands and images, as Samsung builds large language models and the ability to process more types of input, such as gestures and text, into its digital assistant. It’s an important effort, given that virtual assistants are once again in the spotlight thanks to the growing interest in generative AI.

“Bixby will continue to evolve in this direction, and we believe that a service based on this technology will become much more useful and attractive,” he said.

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Chomet spoke with CNET just ahead of Samsung’s Unpacked event on July 10, where the star of the show was Galaxy AI and its role in foldable phones and wearables. Samsung’s focus throughout 2024 has clearly been on Galaxy AI, which includes tools to rewrite text in a different tone, add or remove content from photos, and translate phone conversations in real time. In fact, Chomet says Samsung decided the Galaxy S24 would be the starting point for Galaxy AI about 18 months ago, and came up with “billions of ideas,” only a fraction of which have made it into the company’s phones.

However, it would be a mistake to think that Galaxy AI is replacing Bixby as the sole tool for infusing the company’s smartphones with more AI. According to Chomet, Bixby and Galaxy AI serve two distinct purposes. Bixby is primarily a service that helps you get things done faster and more efficiently on your Samsung device, while Galaxy AI aims to make all aspects of your phone’s user interface, or “touchpoints,” as Chomet calls them, more intelligent and intuitive. In other words, Bixby is a specific service, while Galaxy AI aims to improve your phone’s entire interface.

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Chomet says that with services like Google’s Bixby and Gemini, as well as Galaxy AI, your phone will get a much better understanding of what you’re trying to do on it — ideally, so you don’t have to open multiple apps to get a task done.

“There’s a huge transformation coming, which is the entire user interface is going to become intelligent,” he said. “And that’s going to completely change the entire landscape.”

A world where we don’t have to open apps frequently to get things done on our phones isn’t all that far off, according to Chomet, who estimates that such a shift could happen within the next few years. And he’s not alone; Google’s Sameer Samat shared a similar vision when speaking to CNET in January, which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising given how closely the two companies work together.

Startups like Rabbit and Humane AI have also explored reducing app reliance by introducing new types of devices, such as Rabbit’s wearable voice-enabled device and Humane’s AI badge, though both devices were criticized by critics for failing to live up to expectations.

So when will Bixby get these improvements? Chomet couldn’t provide specifics, but simply said, “We’ll let you know when it happens,” adding that the company is currently working on it.

But he did provide an example of how Bixby could better manage Samsung devices in the future. If you ask a question, like what time an upcoming sports game is, Bixby should be able to intelligently add it to your calendar and set an alarm. That sounds similar to where Apple is heading with the improved version of Siri it announced at WWDC, which will be able to answer questions in a more personalized way based on context from your phone.

“I think the ability to interact in natural language is transformative,” he said. “And I think that’s a huge opportunity for us as a device maker.”