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Samsung Offers Early Previews of Bixby Voice Assistant

Samsung's Bixby voice assistant is making an initial foray onto select Galaxy S8 phones ahead of a public rollout, which was initially scheduled for this spring.

Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners who opt in to the early access program will be among the first people to ask Bixby to search through their photo albums or take selfies, among other tasks. The program is open to sign-ups now, and it will begin "in the near future," according to Samsung.

Some Bixby features are already available on Samsung phones, such as text-based suggestions about when to connect to Wi-Fi networks or reminders about what's on your grocery list. Bixby's voice recognition, however, is still under development, and judging from the early access program, it appears that Samsung wants to spend more time training it before rolling out the feature.

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If you participate, Samsung warns that it "does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness and reliability of Bixby." The company will also collect information from the program to improve the voice assistant and add new features, so you might want to read through its privacy policy to make sure you're OK with sharing the data the company might collect.

Eventually, Samsung plans to expand Bixby to a wide range of its consumer devices, including televisions and refrigerators. Adding it to as many devices as possible mimics Amazon's strategy with its own Alexa voice assistant, which is now available on several task-specific gadgets from Echo speakers to the new Dash Wand.

Will Bixby be a worthy competitor for Alexa, Siri, and Google's Assistant? That depends on how quickly Samsung deliver the laundry list of Bixby features that it promises are "coming soon."

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