(Pocket-lint) - Leaks and rumours from the past year will have you believe that a Bixby-powered smart speaker is on the way.
Samsung is reportedly developing such a device, and if the latest news is true, we'll see it arrive sometime this year. It's early days still, so nothing is for sure, and there's little evidence to suggest what it might feature. Nevertheless, we've rounded up all the different scoops out there to help you better understand what's supposedly coming.
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Samsung's Bixby smart speaker: Confirmation
In August 2017 - a couple years after Amazon launched the Amazon Echo and a year after Google launched the Google Home and months after Apple announced the HomePod - Samsung confirmed it was developing a smart speaker, too. DJ Koh, president of Samsung’s mobile division, revealed the news to CNBC after Samsung's Unpacked/Galaxy Note 8 event. He also confirmed the product would launch "soon".
Samsung's Bixby smart speaker: Codename
According to a July 2017 report from The Wall Street Journal, Samsung's smart speaker has a project codename: Vega. But it seems like there was some internal disarray about what should happen with Vega. At the time, the report claimed a release date hadn't been determined, and because of a launch delay with the English-language version of Bixby, Samsung was indecisive about the speaker and what it should feature.
Samsung's Bixby smart speaker: Design
Patently Mobile spotted a design patent in May 2017 for an "audio device" made by Samsung. However, it didn't give away any details as to specs or features. It just showed us a design that Samsung had in mind. Given it's described as an audio device, coupled with the fact that the company has its own voice-assistant, Bixby, and that its design looks like a screen mounted on a tripod, many assumed Samsung was prepping its very own Amazon Echo Show rival.
Samsung's Bixby smart speaker: Features
Bixby is Samsung's answer to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. And, in August 2017, Samsung announced that users of Bixby could finally start uttering voice commands in order to play music through Spotify. It was a major win for Bixby, as the assistant suffered from multiple delays and then a lack of integrations when it did launch.
Although we think making a smart speaker to showcase Bixby seems like the logical next step for Samsung, it's not official yet. DJ Koh, the president of Samsung’s mobile division, told CNBC that Samsung is making a speaker and wants to create a "fruitful user experience at home with Samsung devices", but, technically, he didn't specify whether Samsung's speaker would feature Bixby. It's pretty much a safe bet, though one can never assume.
That said, Bloomberg reported in December 2017 that the device will run Bixby, and that Samsung is focused on audio quality and making sure the device can manage connected home appliances. In fact, it sounds like the speaker will be a hub for Samsung's SmartThings ecosystem, and all Samsung devices, including Galaxy phones, will work with it.
Bloomberg also reported that Samsung is still improving the speaker's ability to handle voice-based web searches.
Samsung's Bixby smart speaker: Release date
Bloomberg reported in December 2017 that Samsung's smart speaker will release within the first half of 2018. It'll reportedly launch in multiple markets, possibly including the US.
Samsung's Bixby smart speaker: Price
Bloomberg reported in December 2017 that Samsung's smart speaker is expected to cost around $200.