Gearing up for Mobile World Congress, the Internet is buzzing about the Samsung S8. Samsung has been on a tear of acquisitions and investments, scooping up Viv, investing in Houndify, and grabbing Harman. The most interesting rumour about the S8 is the inclusion of a replacement of the S-Voice — codenamed Bixby.

With Android touting Google Assistant, Apple devices with Siri, and Echo and dozens of other devices with Alexa, how will Samsung get users to adopt Bixby? Even Houndify has its own service, Hound.

There are still a few killer voice apps where a dedicated voice assistant on hardware could edge out the other virtual assistants:

  • Access to the phone’s sensors to inform the assistant (“How active am I?” or “When’s the best time for me to go on a 20 minute run today?”)
  • Immediate music playback (that’s not Apple Music or Google Play or YouTube) e.g. “Play Britney Spears”. This wouldn’t be so crazy as Google gave away YouTube Red access and unlimited 4K res Google Photo storage with the Pixel, so why can’t Samsung bundle services?
  • Being proactive vs reactive… relaying messages in a calming way.
  • Having a simple, customizable API for voice interaction on other devices.

The rumours also talk about having a dedicated button, which is only a small incentive to use a voice service if the service isn’t already great.

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