The long wait is over: Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby is finally launching in more than 200 countries, including the UK.
As previously reported by The Verge, the South Korean electronics company’s answer to Siri and Google Assistant is becoming available in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and hundreds of other countries — following its July launch in the US and South Korea.
Samsung managed to totally botch the launch of Bixby. It was announced ahead of the Galaxy S8, the company’s flagship smartphone, and the plan was to launch it alongside the device when it went on sale in April 2017. It was advertised as an innovative new way to control your smartphone using your voice. The S8 even had a dedicated hardware button for activating Bixby!
But shortly before the phone went on sale, Samsung announced Bixby would not be available at launch — only “later this spring.” Then it was delayed again, amid reports that Samsung was struggling to get it to understand English.
In July, it belatedly arrived on handsets in the US. But even then, it had issues. As Business Insider’s Steve Kovach reported at the time, it was “pretty dumb,” “half-baked,” and not particularly helpful for answering questions — a key function of modern AI assistants on smartphones.
Bixby is now becoming available around the globe — albeit still only with US English and Korean. So if you’ve got a strong regional accent, you might still be out of luck.
“The expansion of Bixby’s voice capabilities is an initial step in the continued rollout of Bixby functionality,” executive vice president at Samsung Electronics Injong Rhee said in a statement. “In the future, Bixby will have the learning power to offer more intelligent and personalised interactions and seamless connections across more devices.”
The expansion comes ahead of another big event for Samsung. It is launching the Galaxy Note 8, its next flagship smartphone, on Wednesday. It comes after the catastrophic Note 7 in 2016, which was recalled (twice!) and then permanently discontinued over its exploding batteries.