Samsung has announced that it's very own Bixby voice assistant is now rolling out to 200 countries worldwide. The assistant currently only supports US English and Korean languages, so there may be a few language barriers to overcome, but it's welcome news that it's finally available, four months after the launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
Bixby did launch with the Galaxy smartphones, but the voice support aspect of the smart assistant didn't. Functions that were available at launch included Bixby Vision, Samsung's own augmented reality software.
With Bixby Voice, Samsung smartphone owners will be able to control a vast array of features and functions using their voice instead of touch. Samsung highlights a Quick Commands feature, that will let you run processes on your phone, in a similar way to how you would use Amazon Echo or Google Home.
For example, you can create a "good night" recipe, and when you say it to your phone, it will turn do not disturb mode on, set an alarm for the next morning and enable to blue light filter.
Bixby is context-aware too, so you can issue commands and carry out more realistic conversations with it. One example Samsung gives is that you can send a recently taken photo to one of your contacts, by saying "send the picture just taken to Ben". Bixby will understand which photo you're referring to, and will be able to pick Ben out from your contacts list.
Samsung says Bixby will be able to learn and understand your personal way of speaking and the regular phrases you use over time.
Bixby's language support will grow over time, as will the number of countries it's available in.
Samsung also says it will expand the number of devices that can support it, as well as third-party applications.
Bixby is currently only available on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones, both of which have a dedicated button on the side to activate it. Alternatively, you can say "Hi, Bixby" to spring it into life.