Samsung's S8 gets its own AI assistant to vie with Apple's Siri

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(Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co.’s upcoming Galaxy S8 will feature a Siri-like digital assistant that studies user activity to offer helpful tips and information, seeking to challenge rivals such as Apple Inc. in mobile artificial intelligence.

The Galaxy S8 to be unveiled later this month sports a side-button that can activate a digital assistant dubbed Bixby, the company said during a pre-launch briefing. The artificial intelligence system can analyze user’s activities and identify their interest in products such as wine, sharing related information such as manufacturers and prices.

Samsung is banking on its marquee S8 to bounce back from last year’s botched debut of the fire-prone Note 7 and reclaim its global lead in smartphones. The Note 7 got killed off after showing a tendency to catch fire, costing the company more than $6 billion. Bixby will come embedded throughout the S8’s interface and works in tandem with apps such as Pinterest and Amazon to draw out information, developers said at the briefing. The Suwon, South Korea-based company will pick more partners in time, they added.

Digital assistants have become popular in past years as Silicon Valley seeks to embed AI deeper into a plethora of devices. Google Assistant competes against Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana in a race to imbue smartphones and home appliances with the ability to understand speech, anticipate users’ needs and deliver timely information.

Bixby was developed in-house rather than through Viv Labs Inc., which it acquired in October, according to Samsung. Viv Labs’ founders helped create Siri for iPhones.

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