Samsung Electronics on Friday announced an Early Access program for the American English version of Bixby Voice, the conversational component of the company's new artificial intelligence (AI) assistant. The Seoul-based consumer electronics manufacturer is accepting signups as of today, with the initiative being available to owners of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, the only two handsets that currently boast official support for Bixby. The initial testing phase is set to begin "in the near future," Samsung said, without clarifying on the matter. Interested parties can sign up for the Early Access program by following the link below.
The announcement essentially confirms that the South Korean phone maker is set to miss Bixby's initial release window that it promised in April, with one of the company's representatives then saying that the American English variant of Bixby Voice will be available in the United States "later this spring." While the early access variant of the voice-enabled companion may still be introduced by next Tuesday and technically make the promised launch window, the company's previous statement on the matter implied a wider release. Originally announced in the run-up to the unveiling of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, Bixby was touted as one of the unique selling points of Samsung's latest flagship duo, in addition to the firm stating it eventually intends to build an entire Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem around its digital assistant. The voice-enabled component of the service that's crucial to the user experience promised by Samsung was later delayed for an unspecified period of time, with industry insiders claiming that Bixby was still struggling with English as of two weeks ago and the company's engineers needed more time to code the service in accordance with the grammar and syntax rules of the language.
It's still unclear whether this delay will affect Samsung's long-term plans for Bixby as the company was presumably hoping to start competing with the likes of Alexa and the Google Assistant as early as this year, yet its issues with development may also postpone a wider release of the AI companion. An update on the U.S. and global availability of Bixby is expected to follow in the coming days.