Samsung’s Galaxy S8 has a tough job ahead of its rumored April, 2017 release date. Not only will it come after the Samsung Note 7 disaster, it will also have to compete against Apple and Google’s flagship devices – the iPhone 7 and the Google Pixel.
A new Samsung Galaxy S8 leak suggests the war will not be fought over technical specifications alone – instead, the Galaxy S8 will challenge its rivals’ Artificial Intelligence (AI) voice helpers – Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant, with help from non other than some of the creators of the original Siri.
Samsung’s Galaxy devices have had built in voice assistants for a long time. In fact, they’ve had two – with Google’s assistant being an integral part of every Android device, and Samsung’s own S Voice prominently featured on Samsung’s devices. For the Galaxy S8, however, Samsung are taking it a step further, with a new AI voice assistant, reportedly called “Bixby”.
According to the leak published by SamMobile, the Samsung Galaxy S8’s voice assistant will work across all of Samsung’s native apps that come pre-installed on the phone, such as the Gallery app, S Health and S Planner (Samsung’s own calendar app). The new voice assistant will not only be able to run those apps for you, but execute your commands in chain and in context. So, for example, you could ask the calendar app to show you a free appointment slot next week, and then subsequently ask it to set an appointment with a contact on that same slot.
In addition, Samsung says you won’t need to use separate apps for different commands, but instead, the AI voice assistant will take care of things from above. So, for example, ordering a Pizza and ordering a cab will both be done through the new voice interface, instead of running two separate apps.
The new Samsung Galaxy S8 voice assistant will use AI technology from a company Samsung bought only a few months ago – Viv. The company, as TechCrunch reported, was co-founded by the team that originally created Siri, before it was acquired by Apple in 2010. The team eventually left Apple and founded Viv in 2012, aiming to build an even more powerful voice assistant, as Dag Kittlaus, one of Viv’s founders, explains.
“You are going to go from a few dozen capabilities to thousands, tens of thousands or more over the coming years.
One way to think about this is that you’ve got this massive app ecosystem out there. What you’ll find in this effort is that we’re going to be slowly moving over to this post-app world.”
The AI voice assistant space is quickly becoming the hottest battle among the big technology companies. Apple’s Siri has been around for a while, though to this day, some say it is yet to live up to its potential. Google Assistant is a more powerful version of Google Now, but, at least for now, can only be used fully on Google’s Pixel devices. And even Microsoft is in the game, with its own voice activated personal assistant – Cortana.
When it comes to AI and digital assistance, Samsung has at least one advantage over Apple and Google: the fact that they manufacture a whole range of home and kitchen appliances, from TVs to washing machines and refrigerators. Samsung can use this advantage by creating a whole ecosphere of devices that work with the new voice assistant. Imagine telling your Samsung Galaxy S8 to turn on your Samsung washing machine, or to activate your Samsung dishwasher with your voice, and then be notified when it’s done on your Samsung Galaxy S8.
As far as Samsung Galaxy S8’s other technical specifications, additional recent leaks have suggested it might include 8GB of RAM, a massive leap over the Galaxy S7 and the Note 7’s 4GB of RAM. In addition, several reports have claimed the Galaxy S8 will take a cue from Apple and ditch the headphone jack.
As for screen size, leaks and rumors have suggested two variations of Samsung’s next flagship phone – the Samsung Galaxy S8, with a five-inch screen, and a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, with a huge six-inch screen. With that size, the Galaxy S8 Plus might be a complete replacement for the ill-fated Note 7 and its exploding batteries.
The expected release date of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is, at the moment, April 2017. We’ll have to wait until then, to find out whether we’ll finally get that AI virtual assistant we’ve been dreaming of for years.
[Featured Image by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images]