What is Bixby? Our guide to Samsung’s voice assistant

Bixby (Image credit: Shutterstock)

What is Bixby? The fact that anyone has to ask is pretty telling. In a smart assistant market dominated by the likes of Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri and AI on all sorts of other voice-enabled gadgets, there’s only so much love given to Samsung’s own voice assistant.

Anyone with a Samsung phone, Samsung TV, or otherwise will be able to use the in-house smart assistant for a number of tasks, queries, and capabilities just like its better-known competition. 

But given the ease of swapping it out with other assistants – and the inability to get it on iOS or Android devices not made by Samsung – it doesn’t exactly have the largest user base. 

While the Samsung Galaxy Home smart speaker was announced last year, too, there’s still no sign of a launch date, and it may well be due to Bixby simply not being advanced enough yet. (Not that unfinished tech stopped Samsung from launching the Galaxy Fold prematurely.)

Here we’ll run you through exactly what Bixby is used for, where you can find it, and how to ditch it for a, well, smarter assistant if you’re so inclined.

What is Bixby used for?

(Image credit: Samsung)

Voice commands

Bixby is a voice assistant, just meaning that you interface with it using voice commands. Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana are all voice assistants – also known as ‘smart assistants’ or simply ‘AI’.

Voice assistants are still pretty limited to basic tasks, like playing songs through a smart speaker, telling you the weather through a smartphone app, navigating smart TV menus, making shopping lists and calendar invites, or answering basic trivia questions – and often with varying success rates. 

We couldn’t count the number of times Alexa or Bixby has been stumped by (what we thought was) a straightforward question, or struggled to make sense of a wordy song title. Not to mention the societal biases still being heard in these virtual voices. But the capability and comprehension of these voice assistants is improving all the time. 

That said, Bixby simply isn’t the smartest out there. Compared to Google Assistant, the app runs a little more slowly and doesn’t have the breadth of the Google search engine to draw from, making the potential pool of information smaller.

The small user base also becomes self-fulfilling: without the user data to feed back into the AI, there’s only so much it can improve its voice recognition, whereas entrenched smart assistants like Alexa have countless hours of audio interactions to help it learn.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Bixby Marketplace

Samsung has also recently launched the Bixby Marketplace, a kind of counter to Alexa Skills, allowing users to expand Bixby’s capability for certain apps or functions – like communicating with smart home devices, or integrating with Google Maps – but there aren’t exactly many of them yet, and you can usually get by with just the basic functionality.

Bixby Vision

Packed into Samsung’s smartphone camera app, Bixby Vision is a tool for analyzing images and linking you to more information and resources about what’s inside it.

Samsung’s support page says it can “translate text, find similar images, or give you more information about a picture”.

Where do you get Bixby?

Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Bixby acts as Samsung’s in-house voice AI, so it will be available by default on Samsung smartphones like the Galaxy S10, or more premium Samsung TVs like the Q60R QLED (which has a microphone in the remote for picking up voice commands). 

The first smartphone to get Bixby was the flagship Galaxy S8 back in 2017, and anyone with a Bixby phone can either just say “Hi Bixby” into the handset or press the dedicated Bixby button to summon the little assistant.

You’ll also get Bixby in the Samsung Galaxy Buds earphones. Many earbuds or headphones will be able to sync with a smart assistant, though they’ll often only support one or two major ones like Alexa or Google Assistant.

How to delete Bixby

Let’s face it: there’s stiff competition in the world of voice assistants, and it’s very possibly you’re already working with an ecosystem of Alexa speakers or Apple devices where you want to stick with the one AI you already know – not least so it can communicate easily with your various other gadgets.

Even on Samsung phones, you’ll have the option of switching to a different smart assistant if you want to use Alexa or Google Assistant instead. 

First, just search the assistant you want in the App Store or Google Play Store (Alexa, Google Assistant, etc) and download the app. 

Then head to your Settings > Apps > Default > Assist & Voice Input and select the Assist App you want to use for voice commands. You can also have several smart assistant apps installed on your phone, for communicating with different smart home devices and the like – so there's no need to choose one and miss out on the others entirely.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.