Samsung's Bixby AI assistant can see as well as talk

With camera and hardware integration, the company's personal assistant might actually be useful.


With its latest Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones, Samsung also launched its very own AI assistant, Bixby. We know what you're thinking: Do I really need yet another Android helper bot like Google Assistant or even Cortana vying for my attention? Actually, Bixby might prove to be more useful for Galaxy S8 owners than we expected, thanks to its tight integration with the smartphones' hardware.

Bixby has its own access button on the Galaxy S8 that helps you navigate services, apps and more via voice, touch and text commands. It also comes with a card-centric user interface that looks a lot like Google's former Now app, letting you save cards as reminders for later use. At launch, it will integrate with Samsung's camera, gallery, contacts, messages and settings, and with third-party apps in the future.

That will help it "see" and do things like shop, translate languages on street signs and more. For instance, you can point the camera at a building in a city, and it will tell you which one it is and give you info about nearby spots where you can find dinner. It's all part of Bixby Vision, which is a way for you to search for things with images alone. Samsung says the technology will work with services like Pinterest, Amazon and Vivino.

In one demo, Samsung shows how you can just tell Bixby to "capture this and send it to Cindy," so it contextually knows that you want to do a screengrab and send it to a contact. If you have more than one Cindy in your contacts, it will offer up a menu that lets you select the one you want.

All told, the app actually looks better than we expected, and may prove more useful for some chores than Google's Assistant since it works directly with Samsung's hardware. However, we've been similarly enthused about other AI assistants, then rarely used them, so we'll reserve judgement for our upcoming review. Meanwhile, check out the Galaxy S8 and S8+ hands-on looks or the video below.

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