Samsung Bixby: 7 things to know about the Galaxy S8 assistant

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by Jason Cipriani March 29, 2017 9:45 AM PDT @MrCippy

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The new digital assistant hops aboard Samsung's Galaxy S8.

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Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant have a new frenemy. Samsung today announced Bixby, a personal assistant that comes with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. Here are seven things we currently know about the mysterious assistant.

It's on the Galaxy S8 only... for now

Bixby is making its debut on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, with more Samsung products anticipated to integrate Bixby in the future. Those who own an older Galaxy phone, you'll need to upgrade in order to gain Bixby.

Launching Bixby is super easy

You have a few different options to open Bixby. On the left side of the Galaxy S8, just below the volume buttons is a dedicated Bixby button.

A quick press of the button to launch Bixby and give a command, or long-press to open Bixby Home. The third method to access Bixby is through the camera app.

You can also summon Bixby using your voice, with the wake phrase of "Bixby."

There's also Bixby Home

Flipboard's newsfeed is gone, replaced by Bixby Home on the Galaxy S8. 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

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.

There's a 'handful' of apps at launch

Right now, Bixby will only work within Samsung apps and a limited number of them at that. Samsung is only saying a "handful" of apps are supported at launch but stopped short of providing an exact list or number.

The company has committed to regularly updating Bixby and adding more apps and capabilities over time.

During the Unpacked announcement, Samsung demonstrated taking a screenshot and sending it as an attachment in a text message using Bixby. The company also announced Bixby will work with Google Play Music.

Bixby can control the camera

Using the camera app on the Galaxy S8, Bixby Vision is capable of six things:

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

Just hold up your phone, wait for Bixby to scan an object or landmark, and tap on the proper button at the bottom of the display.

There's a lot it doesn't know

Answering questions about how old a celebrity is isn't something you can ask Bixby quite yet, and Samsung isn't ready to say when it will be possible.

For now, you're going to have to rely on Google Assistant (just long-press the home button) to answer trivia questions or provide random facts.

CNET First Take

Samsung Galaxy S8 Its comeback flagship phone looks and feels awesome, but Samsung will have to work out its new digital assistant's kinks.

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