Tech Transformers

Samsung confirms the Galaxy S8 will have Bixby, its own voice assistant to rival Apple’s Siri

Samsung has confirmed that Bixby, its own voice assistant and rival to Apple's Siri, will feature be on the upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone.

In a blog post released Monday, Injong Rhee , Samsung's head of research and development for Software and Services, said that Bixby will launch with "a subset of pre-installed applications" of on the S8 which will "continue to expand over time".

The South Korean electronics giant also said that it was planning to release tools to allow third-party developers to make Bixby-enabled apps. Voice assistants have been all the rage among major technology companies including Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, but, up until now, Samsung has not had a version of its own.

SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Bixby could allow Samsung to differentiate its flagship smartphone which is set to be released at an event next week. But the S8 is also going to run Google's Android operating system. The U.S. search giant announced recently that Google Assistant, its own voice solution, will be rolled out on all Android phones running version 6.0 of its operating system or newer. This would mean that its device would have two voice assistants on it.

"It is a challenge but this is the dance Samsung has to do in terms of its relationship with Google, where it has an agreement as a result of licensing Android to support certain features," Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC by phone on Tuesday.

Samsung typically has not been a player in the software space, unlike Apple which owns both its own hardware and software in the form of iOS. The company will be hoping Bixby will allow it to keep users in its ecosystem of apps and services .

Users will be able to access Bixby by a side button on the smartphone. Because it is based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, Samsung will need to get a large number of people using Bixby to help it learn and improve, which could be another challenge. But it has an advantage by being the biggest smartphone maker in the world by market share.

Samsung is also positioning Bixby as a voice assistant that can go across many devices, not just its smartphones.

"Starting with our smartphones, Bixby will be gradually applied to all our appliances. In the future you would be able to control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby. Since Bixby will be implemented in the cloud, as long as a device has an internet connection and simple circuitry to receive voice inputs, it will be able to connect with Bixby," Rhee said in the blog post.

Samsung makes a whole range of appliances and voice could be a key way to interact with these as they become smarter.

Last year, Samsung acquired Viv Labs, an artificial intelligence start-up founded by the makers of Siri. Initially, Bixby will only use Samsung's own technology, but future updates will incorporate Viv, Rhee told technology website CNET in an interview.