Samsung’s in-house voice assistant, Bixby, may not have the user base to rival fellow voice assistants Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, but the AI-powered helper is getting a suite of much-needed upgrades to further level up the best Samsung phones.
Specifically, Samsung’s Bixby update – which will be rolling out to Samsung Galaxy users throughout February – brings significant improvements to the software’s ability to recognize language.
For instance, English speakers can now answer calls by simply typing a message, which Bixby then converts into audio to be communicated to the caller on their behalf. The feature, called Bixby Text Call, can also be customized to feature AI-generated versions of users' actual voices, Samsung says.
Bixby Custom Voice Creator allows users to record different sentences that the AI will analyze and turn into custom replies. Samsung’s press release (opens in new tab) notes that the feature is “currently available in Korean” and will soon be rolled out to “other Samsung apps beyond phone calls,” which is slightly confusing wording, so we’ve reached out to the company for clarification on whether it’ll be available in English at launch.
Bixby’s latest update also adds the ability to create a personalized wake-up phrase, though, again, this seems limited to the Korean language for now.
It’s also worth noting that Bixby Text Call – which Samsungs says is available on selected models including the Samsung Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus, Galaxy S23 Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 – requires One UI 5.1 or above for phones operating in English. By the looks of things, Bixby Custom Voice Creator is limited to the Galaxy S23, S23 and S23 Ultra for now.
A much brainier Bixby
In addition to these call-related features, Samsung’s Bixby update also makes the assistant more effective at dealing with follow-up requests.
As the company notes, “Bixby can better understand intent and process follow-up requests by understanding context and associating words previously used in interactions. For example, Bixby users can first launch a workout on Samsung Health and then ask Bixby to play music that best suits that exercise by saying ‘Play music for this workout.’” Neat.
Again, however, it looks like this feature is currently limited to the Korean language, though Samsung notes that “more languages [will] be supported” in the future.
And finally, Bixby’s offline capabilities have been improved. Users can now ask the voice assistant to carry out basic functions – like setting timers, taking screenshots or turning on the flashlight – even when their phone isn’t connected to the web. Apple introduced similar functionality to Siri with iOS 15, so we’re glad to see Samsung bringing its voice assistant in line with the competition here.
For more AI-related news, check out our report on the AI-generated image that recently won a photography contest, or read our Computing Editor's thoughts on why AI is going to ruin humanity – just not in the way we might expect.