On top of that, Bixby was installed alongside the well-established Google Assistant, prompting questions as to whether it was really necessary to add another digital assistant to an already crowded market.
Samsung may have realized Bixby's shortcomings as a digital assistant, but with Bixby 2.0 the Korean tech giant is hardly backing down. Bixby 2.0 is the lead element of Samsung's bid to build its own ecosystem of connected devices and services.
The new Bixby strategy is vastly different from what came before it, which is why we've chosen to publish this article to accompany our original Bixby smart person's guide, which focuses more on its digital assistant features.
This resource about Bixby 2.0 is a quick introduction to the latest version of Samsung's digital assistant and its new ecosystem, as well as a "living" guide that will be updated periodically as it continues to evolve with Samsung's IoT strategy.
- What is Bixby 2.0? Bixby 2.0 is the latest version of Samsung's digital assistant. The new version will focus more on Samsung's IoT and connected tech strategy.
- Why does Bixby 2.0 matter? Samsung is aiming to create an ecosystem like the one powered by Amazon Alexa. Whether it will be able to compete remains to be seen, but Samsung's wide range of appliances and products will give it an early advantage.
- Who does Bixby 2.0 affect? Once it is widely released in 2018, Bixby 2.0 will affect Samsung customers as well as developers who want to integrate their products with the Bixby ecosystem. Samsung has stated it plans to make Bixby 2.0 "open" by releasing an SDK, which means it will likely affect hardware manufacturers considering which ecosystems to integrate with as well.
- When will Bixby 2.0 be released? The Bixby 2.0 SDK has begun an initial closed, invitation-only beta test. Samsung plans to widen the beta availability over the next few months and release Bixby 2.0 sometime in 2018.
SEE: Hiring kit: IoT developer (Tech Pro Research)
What is Bixby 2.0?
Whereas Bixby's first incarnation was as a digital assistant for the Galaxy S8 series of Samsung smartphones, Bixby 2.0 is designed to be part of a full Samsung smart device ecosystem.
A blog post by Samsung executive vice president for R&D Eui-Suk Chung outlined the vision the company has for Bixby 2.0 as "the control hub of your device ecosystem, including mobile phones, TVs, refrigerators, home speakers, or any other connected technology you can imagine."
SEE: Special report: Harnessing IoT in the enterprise (free PDF)
With that in mind, Samsung plans to add Bixby integration to all of the smart products it produces, and then some. Going hand-in-hand with Bixby 2.0 and Samsung's lineup of connected devices is Project Ambience, which uses a dongle that plugs into third-party devices to make them connect to the Bixby ecosystem.
Samsung's newest endeavor seems to be moving tech into what it calls the "intelligence of things era," and it sees Bixby 2.0 as the primary interface in that era.
- Samsung announces Bixby, new AI assistant for Galaxy S8 (TechRepublic)
- Samsung launches Bixby 2.0 everywhere plan, consolidates IoT efforts: Will developers bite? (ZDNet)
- Samsung's Bixby, now even smarter, arrives on fridges (CNET)
- Hands-on with Samsung Bixby Voice beta: 3,000 reasons to finally use the button (ZDNet)
- Enterprise IoT Research 2017: Benefits, Trends, and Security Concerns (Tech Pro Research)
Why does Bixby 2.0 matter?
Make no mistake: Samsung's AI-driven, connected focus for Bixby 2.0 is putting it in direct competition with Amazon's Alexa, which is the dominate force in IoT connectivity in the market today.
Considering the huge share of the market that Alexa has, it's easy to look at a face-to-face competition between Amazon and Samsung for AI-driven smart home products as one-sided in Amazon's favor. However, that doesn't acknowledge the large array of internet-connected devices that Samsung already produces, and the others that will benefit from Bixby integration.
So while Bixby will have a bit of an uphill climb to make it a contender for smart home hub dominance, it's entirely possible that Samsung will be able to close the gap with Amazon, not to mention with Google and Apple, by sheer virtue of its hardware offerings and projects like Ambience.
- Why businesses are lining up behind Amazon Alexa in the virtual assistant race (TechRepublic)
- Video: Why Amazon's Alexa is the next big operating system (TechRepublic)
- Galaxy S8 Bixby assistant will be expanded to all Samsung devices (ZDNet)
- Personal digital assistants: The current lineup (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant are just the beginning: Voice is the future (ZDNet)
- Alexa builds a growing army to invade the digital home (ZDNet)
- IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)
Who does Bixby 2.0 affect?
Bixby 2.0 isn't available to the public yet, and few developers have even had a chance to try out the Bixby SDK. So, few people are currently affected by it, aside from needing to plan for a new ecosystem to compete in, or with.
Once Bixby 2.0 is rolled out in 2018 it will affect Samsung customers, as well as anyone else considering entering into the connected home world: Bixby will be one more platform to consider when looking at options.
That's not to mention developers and third-party manufacturers, who will have the opportunity to add Bixby support and integration using the SDK that is still in closed beta. It remains to be seen how easily Bixby will work alongside other ecosystems like Alexa, meaning it's unknown if devs and manufacturers will have the luxury of adding support for multiple ecosystems, or if they will be forced to go the Bixby-only route.
- AI assistants will outnumber all people on Earth by 2021, report says (TechRepublic)
- 15 books every programmer should read (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- The future will be voice-operated but digital assistants need to learn apps (ZDNet)
- Facebook lines up to compete with Apple, Google, and Samsung with new AI digital assistant (TechRepublic)
- Who needs a screen? AI shaping future of computing with digital assistants (ZDNet)
When will Bixby 2.0 be released?
Samsung hasn't given a definite answer on when Bixby 2.0 will be available, only giving the broad window of 2018.
The Bixby 2.0 SDK has been released to a few select developers, and Samsung said it will be inviting more as testing continues. Don't go running off looking for a signup page, though—there's no way to sign up for inclusion into the forthcoming beta.
- Samsung adds option to disable Bixby button on Galaxy smartphones (ZDNet)
- The complete business user's guide to Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 (TechRepublic)
- 10 cool Samsung Bixby tricks you need to know (CNET)
- Samsung unlocks Bixby voice assistant for 200 more countries (CNET)
- Check out CNET's Smart Home coverage (CNET)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.