Samsung launched its new voice assistant Bixby earlier this week to rival Apple’s Siri. Bixby will debut on the Samsung Galaxy S8, which the firm is unveiling later this month, the company said in a blog post.  

Bixby enters a crowded field of digital assistants powered by artificial intelligence that includes Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon's Alexa.

Samsung said Bixby will focus on letting people control mobile apps with spoken directives.

"Bixby will be our first step on a journey to completely open up new ways of interacting with your phone," Samsung Electronics head of research and development Injong Rhee said in a release.

Samsung late last year bought Viv, an artificial intelligence startup with co-founders who were part of the team that built virtual assistant Siri, which Apple bought some seven years ago.

According to the blog, there are three things that make Bixby different from other voice assistants.

Completeness

When an application becomes Bixby-enabled, Bixby will be able to support almost every  task that the application is capable of performing using the conventional interface (ie. touch commands).  Most existing agents currently support only a few selected tasks for an application and therefore confuse users about what works or what doesn’t work by voice command. The completeness property of Bixby will simplify user education on the capability of the agent, making the behaviours of the agent much more predictable.

Context Awareness

When using a Bixby-enabled application, users will be able to call upon Bixby at any time and it will understand the current context and state of the application and will allow users to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously.  Bixby will allow users to weave various modes of interactions including touch or voice at any context of the application, whichever they feel is most comfortable and intuitive.  Most existing agents completely dictate the interaction modality and, when switching among the modes, may either start the entire task over again, losing all the work in progress, or simply not understand the user’s intention.

Cognitive Tolerance

When the number of supported voice commands gets larger, most users are cognitively challenged to remember the exact form of the voice commands. Most agents require users to state the exact commands in a set of fixed forms. Bixby will be smart enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge, and then will prompt users to provide more information and take the execution of the task in piecemeal. This makes the interface much more natural and easier to use.

There will be the dedicated Bixby button that will be located on the side of the device.

Starting with the smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all Samsung appliances. In the future Samsung customers will be able to control their air conditioner or TV through Bixby. Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby.