Samsung's AI helper, Bixby, isn't being left out of today's Samsung Unpacked 2019 event, with the launch of four new languages now available worldwide. The new languages include British English, German, Italian and Spanish (Spain), nearly doubling the total number of languages the AI assistant can be used in. Previously Bixby could be used in US English, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese.
The new Bixby will, of course, be available on the company's brand new Samsung Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, and Galaxy S10 5G handsets but will also be usable on 'select' Samsung flagships that were launched prior to Unpacked 2019. Summarily, that means that those who speak any of the seven supported languages will be able to use the AI more naturally regardless of where they reside.
For users who aren't quite ready to upgrade to a new device, support is available for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S8, and Galaxy S8+ devices. The only caveat is that devices need to be running Android 9 Pie in order to access Bixby in the newly added languages.
Other incoming changes for Bixby?
Bixby does seem to have several other features on the way based on previously spotted trademarks. Among those is a new 'Routines' functionality that could work across a larger IoT ecosystem to allow features similar to Google's Assistant or Amazon's Alexa, delivering a custom series of IoT actions at a single command. For example, users might create a command to turn off the lights and activate security measures as well as playing some ambient bedtime noises from smart speakers by telling Bixby "goodnight."
Although those features can't be confirmed just yet, the move would make sense in light of other Samsung plans for Bixby, announced back at SDC 2018. During that event, the company revealed that it would not only be hiring as many as 1,000 new AI experts for the platform and incorporating it into all of its products via 2020 via a massive $22 billion investment. Samsung also unveiled the release of its own development platform for use by third-party developers.
That should mean that Bixby will begin appearing in third-party products and services over the next couple of years, making a Routine feature similar to Google and Amazon's more useful.
The better to compete with
By adding new language support, Samsung is making Bixby much more competitive against its rivals in the AI space because it will be more attractive and accessible to both users and developers outside of the initial language groups. Alexa and Assistant still support more languages for the time being but Samsung does indicate that Bixby is effectively still in an ongoing beta test too. So development on currently supported languages and those to be added in the future is still almost certainly underway.
Samsung's Eui-Suk Chung, Executive Vice President and Head of Software and AI, Mobile Communications Business has confirmed that the conversational AI will only become better moving forward as well. How quickly that development happens will largely depend on Samsung's continued ability to build new partnerships to incorporate more "intelligence" across more products and services.