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How to use Bixby, the virtual assistant for Samsung phones

There is no doubt that Samsung Bixby, the virtual assistant of the flagship models of the Korean company, is very different from Siri from Apple, Alexa from Amazon and Google Assistant. Samsung's attempts to anticipate your needs and give you contextualized reminders make Bixby edit photos, send messages and compose emails. Actually, whatever you do on your phone by touching it, you should be able to do it through your voice … If you know how to use Bixby before, of course.

how to use BixbyBrenda Stolyar / Digital Trends

The best thing is that you can also control some smart appliances and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including smart refrigerators, televisions and dozens of other Samsung devices. Next, we explain how to configure Bixby, what's new in this wizard and everything you can do with it.

In constant improvement

It is an unquestionable reality: Bixby is not perfect, but it has been slowly improving. Although initially limited, Bixby Voice language support has been constantly expanded. Now you will find support for Spanish, French, German and Italian, join the supports for Korean, English and Simplified Chinese.

Bixby's ability to understand voice commands has improved exponentially in the last year. Its integration with third-party applications also allows Bixby to better anticipate your needs and fulfill them with simple voice commands. While it is not as refined as Google Assistant or Amazon Echo, its improvements are remarkable.

bixby new assistant for samsung note 9 review top half 768x768Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Bixby has also expanded to other products. You will now find compatibility with Bixby on some Samsung smart TVs, Family Hub refrigerators and other Samsung smart products. The Galaxy Homecompatible smart speaker with Bixby is also on its way.

The launch of the Galaxy S9 brought some interesting additions to Bixby Vision. For example, the new Makeup category allows you to try makeup products through augmented reality. For its part, the Galaxy S10 has introduced the Bixby Routines, a way to activate certain applications using Bixby, depending on your location or phone use.

Bixby Routines

If you have used IFTTT (If This, Then That: If this, then this), then you will have a decent idea of ​​what to expect with Bixby Routines. Simply put, the Routines They allow you to configure Bixby to handle several repetitive tasks by understanding several triggers. For example, if you listen to the same Spotify playlist while you go to work, then you can set up a Routine that opens Spotify and starts playing a playlist as soon as you connect to your car's Bluetooth. It is a powerful tool, and even if you don't use Bixby a lot, it's worth checking out if there's anything you can automate to save time.

The configuration of the Bixby Routines implies diving into your settings, but the matter is quite simple:

  • Open your configuration application, scroll down and open the advanced features.
  • Set the Bixby Routines switch to the on position (blue).

Bixby's routines are now on. But don't close that menu yet, since you'll need it to set up your first routine.

  • Touch Bixby Routines to open your options.
  • To start, you can select one of the preset routines, or you can set up a new routine for yourself.
  • To configure a new routine, select the + symbol in the upper right.
  • Next, you want to name your routine and select a trigger: this will be your action “If This; Yes this".
  • Touch the + symbol to add to your trigger. If you want to configure the example of the car mentioned above, select the Bluetooth connection of your car from the list.
  • Press Following and the + symbol to move to the selection of your action “ Then That; Then this".
  • Choose Play music, then Spotify on the list.

This is the easiest way to set up a routine. But it is only the beginning. Do you want Bixby to read your notifications while driving? You can add this to your routines too. What about a routine that turns on your smart bulbs when you get home? Connect it to your home Wi-Fi network and you can also do it. The best way to use Bixby Routines is to just start experimenting and discover what else you can do.

Bixby Vision

Bixby Vision uses machine learning and database associations to make your camera work for more than just taking photos. In fact, Bixby Vision recognizes several categories of objects: Place, Text, Image, Food, QR Codes, Wine and Shopping. To start it, touch the Bixby button on the camera application of the Galaxy S9 or Note 9, or the Bixby Vision cone on the left side. You can also find Bixby Vision in the Galera application.

Like Google Lens or Amazon Flow, the Bixby Vision image search will try to analyze what is in front of the camera (thanks to the Pinterest Lens tool), and offer you information based on what you find.

By default, Bixby Vision opens in text mode, allowing you to translate a foreign language into the chosen language. It is compatible with a wide variety of languages ​​and works similarly to other examples of this type, such as Google Lens.

Align the text you want to translate in the on-screen box and a real-time translation will appear. It may not be the first, but eventually you will succeed.

As we say, the newest category is Makeup. Here, you can virtually try different Sephora products. Once you find the one you like the most, you can capture your image and Bixby Vision will provide you with details and links to the products for purchase.

Bixby Vision locations use FourSquare to identify landmarks and interesting places around you, if you're ever looking for a place to visit or something to do. The Food tool allows you to direct the camera towards what you are going to eat to see information about calories, which can then be added to the Samsung Health application. Although he could not recognize some Pringles, a Cliff bar or other prepackaged food in our office, he was able to identify a prepared salad. Of course, he provided ridiculously inaccurate heat information.

With Shopping, aim the camera at shoes, clothes or other products, and Bixby try to find it on Amazon, Nordstrom and some other retailers. With Wine, Bixby Vision uses Vivino's database so you can scan wine labels and find more information about the bottle in front of you; It must be said that this works very well.

Without a doubt, Samsung is on the right track with Bixby Vision, although it needs to improve the accuracy in some of these categories so that the function is more useful.

How to configure and use Bixby and Bixby Voice

The configuration could not be easier. The Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus feature a dedicated Bixby button on the right side, just below the volume. When touched, Bixby Home appears, the center of the wizard and the configuration screen.If you are on the Galaxy S8 home screen, you can access the wizard by swiping to the right. When you close it for the first time, you will be asked to accept the conditions of the service and grant you access to your data. Press "Accept all" (after reading the terms) and then select "Allow" when prompted to grant permission to Bixby.To access the Settings screen, tap the settings cone in the upper right corner of Bixby Home and then tap Settings in the drop-down menu. Vers options for Bixby Home cards, a list of compatible applications and more. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus include three Samsung assistant services: Bixby Voice, Bixby Home and Bixby Vision.

Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Bixby Voice is like Siri but with many more functions. In fact, you can even insult Siri in Korean at the rate of rap. Not only that, but it is designed to fit a person's way of speaking, rather than the opposite. According to Samsung, the assistant can understand all the variations of the same command.Bixby Voice is now available to all Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus owners. If you have not received a message to enable it, touch the Bixby button to start the update.

Once you have installed the software and completed the Samsung Bixby Voice tutorial, you can activate it by saying “Hey Bixby” or by pressing the Bixby button while you speak. If you don't want it to seem like you're talking to your phone in public, you can talk to Bixby by holding your phone in your ear, like a phone call.Bixby can perform tasks such as sending text messages through the Messages application of Galaxy S8, and answering basic questions about the weather, your next meeting, sports results and movie schedules. But that is only the tip of the iceberg: the voice assistant works in applications such as the Galaxy S8 call dialer, the configuration messages, the camera application, the contact list and the Galley.Bixby can handle complicated tasks such as opening a split-screen application, rotating misaligned photos, reminding you where you parked, playing videos on a nearby TV, and even writing emails for you. You can also perform two-step actions such as "Open Uber and rate the driver with 5 stars" or "Open Instagram and publish my most recent photo".Bixby Voice is customizable, you can change the genre of the wizard, and it supports direct access to shorten the long commands you use most frequently in a single word or phrase. There are also new hands-free functions. For example, you can now ask the wizard to “read the latest messages”, and read your text messages or emails from Samsung native applications.

Bixby Voice is also customizable: you can change the genre of the wizard on the fly and it is compatible with shortcuts: you can shorten the long commands you use most frequently in a single word or phrase.

Samsung says Bixby supports more than 3,000 commands, including some application specs on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Uber, Gmail, Google Maps and more. The company is continuously improving the application and adding additional support from third-party applications and more commands.

Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Samsung calls Bixby Home a “social streamer for your device,” and that's more or less accurate. It is an interface similar to reminder cards, contextually relevant information and social media updates. Something like a cross between Google Now and HTC BlinkFeed.

Bixby Home can be customized to some extent. You can permanently discard, save or hide the cards by touching the gear cone in the upper right corner of an individual Bixby Home tab. You can also configure quick commands. For example, you can configure the wizard to turn off all the lights in your house and enable your alarm when you say the "I'm going to bed" command.Samsung's default applications provide most of the content of Bixby Home. Vers a prognosis of the local climate, activity statistics of the Samsung Health application and local files in the Galaxy S8 music application.

Eventually, Samsung says that Bixby Home can learn from your routine and update to reflect how you use your phone during the day. A future iteration will present specific buttons that will control lights and smart door locks, will have direct access to the applications you use most frequently, and more, all depending on the time of day, your location and other custom factors.

Reminders

Bixby Reminders are a bit more solid than the reminders you can create with Siri or the Google Assistant. It is integrated into the native applications of the Galaxy S9 and Note 9, and allows you to attach media such as videos, websites, photos and messages.

You can set a specific time when you would like to see a reminder or even a specific location. When the conditions are met, this reminder will appear in the form of a notification that you can discard, postpone or mark.

* Article updated by Daniel Matus on August 22, 2019.

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