After their Unpacked event held in conjunction with MWC 2018, Samsung’s chief DJ Koh spent some time with reporters to discuss other aspects of Samsung’s business and future plans outside of the Galaxy S9 launch that was the keynote of their press event. In his comments, one topic Koh touched on was the development of the next version of Bixby, Samsung’s version of a virtual assistant designed to compete with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.
The release of the original Bixby last year was marred by continued delays and limited releases as Samsung tried to jump on the virtual assistant bandwagon. Samsung finally got things straightened out during the summer of 2017 and was able to include Bixby fully onboard the Galaxy Note 8. That seems to have setup Samsung to align future updates with their Galaxy Note device releases each year, a strategy that appears to be confirmed by Koh who noted, “I think we will be able to unveil Bixby 2.0 when we launch the Galaxy Note 9.”
Koh said the company is working hard to keep up the pace of development of Bixby 2.0 and launched a public beta process this past December. 800 companies are already participating in that process and are currently testing Bixby 2.0.
Despite the delays last year, Koh said that for Bixby 1.0 Samsung “focused on a fast rollout to the market” but “expanding the ecosystem was difficult.” Now that the product is stable, Samsung’s efforts are shifting to two primary areas to improve. That includes support for more devices beyond smartphones and support for multiple users.
When it comes to support for other devices, Koh noted that, “Samsung is unique in that it has TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, phones, PCs, and almost every consumer electronics. We also make the module chips that goes in them needed in IoT.” He also said, “Bixby won’t be tied to a specific device. The ultimate goal is to make it ubiquitous.” With such a large and varied product portfolio, getting Bixby onto as many devices as possible is a smart move for the company. To make that happen, Samsung does need to add support for better speech recognition so that multiple individuals can use the devices.