21/03/2017 9:04 AM IST | Updated 21/03/2017 10:52 AM IST

Samsung's Virtual Assistant Bixby To Be launched With Galaxy S8

Initially, Bixby will support only a handful of apps.

Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

Samsung has entered the Artificial Intelligence personal assistant community with the launch announcement of Bixby last evening. The Korean smartphone maker's virtual assistant is the newest addition to a small club comprising Apple's Siri, Google's Assistant, and Amazon's Alexa. Bixby will be launched with the Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone on 29 March.

The Korean phonemaker introduced the virtual assistant in a blog post yesterday, claiming that Bixby would be "fundamentally different" from the available voice operated assistants. Last year, Samsung acquired an AI startup called Viv whose co-founders were part of the team that built Siri. Bibxy has been made by that team.

Samsung has said that when Bixby is launched, it will support only a handful of apps but will expand in scope over time. The company said that the assistant will be able to perform all the tasks of an app, unlike other assistants. Initially, Bixby will be launched in English and Korean with a dedicated button on the phone to activate it.

"We know that adopting new ways to interact with your devices will require a change in user behaviour. The inconvenience of learning a new interface can cause friction and force users to revert back to old habits. At the same time, we believe the key to success for a new voice interface is to design a scheme that reduces friction and makes the experience significantly more rewarding than the existing interface," Dr Injong Rhee, Executive VP, head of R & D, software and services at Samsung, said in a statement to the press.

A key quality of the new assistant, as outlined in the blog, is that it can understand even incomplete phrases and saves the user the bother of having to use the exact phrase. "The aim to make the interface of the phone simpler and more natural to use. Everything you can do with a touch command, you can do with a voice command when using a Bixby-enabled application," Rhee told the Verge.

Besides smartphones, Samsung plans to install Bixby in other appliances such as TV, refrigerators and washing machines.