The age of the virtual personal assistant is more than upon us. For years now, Apple’s in-built software, Siri, has been talking to users of iPhones and iPads alike to help them find items online, in the App Store and answers to a number of perplexing questions. For the most part, Siri arguably changed the game at least from a smartphone perspective – with Microsoft’s Windows following suit with their Cortana assistant. Since this time, however, Siri has largely continued to dominate the world of voice-activated personal assistance – however, it seems that its place on the throne may be under attack from a fairly surprising source.
Samsung, who are aiming to kick-start 2017 to put behind a disastrous 2016 (thanks to problems caused by the Galaxy Note 7 tablet), are thought to be bringing a virtual assistant to their new Galaxy S8 smartphones, said to be due for release later this year. The assistant, reported to be called Bixby, will go one step further than Siri as it is thought it will be able to directly interact with the user’s environment. It’s thought that this will occur thanks to use of the phone’s camera app, which will allegedly include a dedicated feature so that Bixby can search for any items that the user points their camera at. If these predictions and rumors are to be confirmed in truth, it may well change the game completely for many smartphone addicts and online shoppers – and will likely give Samsung an edge over the competition in a year where they need to pull back much of their damaged reputation.
It’s thought that Bixby will be able to read and analyse text, which will enable the software to search for objects simply by looking at them – another step towards automated searching that will likely inspire other firms to follow suit. Indeed, 2017 will be an incredibly important year for most phone manufacturers. After a lukewarm response to 2016’s iPhone 7, Apple will be looking to turn their fortunes around with a new handset that is reportedly going to be wildly different to any that have come before it. Nokia, too, is due to re-enter the communications game, and Blackberry are set to bow out gracefully – leaving Google, whose Pixel handset wowed users last year, along with Sony, Huawei and HTC, very much in the running for the smartphone crown. Will Samsung win back the support they need to succeed in the year ahead? If the rumors surrounding Bixby are to be believed, it may certainly be possible.