Bixby voice capabilities have been added to Samsung phones
Bixby voice capabilities have been added to Samsung phones

Samsung launches answer to Apple's Siri

IT might not yet understand 'G'day mate, throw another prawn on the barbie' but Samsung's rival to Apple's Siri will finally work on the latest Galaxy phones in Australia.

Samsung announced in New York that Bixby's voice capabilities have been expanded to more than 200 countries, including Australia.

Voice-driven software is becoming increasingly important with the advent of Google's Home product, Amazon's Alexa service and Apple's recent ramping up of Siri capabilities.

Samsung will unveil its Note 8 in New York in the early hours of Thursday (AEDT).

The Note 8 is expected to include a bigger screen than the S8 or S8 Plus or iPhone 7 Plus, along with a dual camera system. There's also talk there will be some good incentives involving packaging with its clever 360 camera.

The Korean electronics giant is looking to redeem itself after the recall of the Note 7 following overheating and explosions which forced a global recall costing the company billions.

You can expect the Note 8 will have been put through an unprecedented testing process before its release with any problems likely to kill off Samsung's flagship business phone.

Samsung believes Bixby's intelligent interface will change the way we use our smartphones - allowing users to do everything from take a selfie to have Bixby read the latest Facebook Messenger messages while people are driving.

It uses a series of quick commands which reduce the need to type multiple questions or commands.

For example, you could say 'good night' and Bixby could turn on do not disturb mode on your phone and set an alarm.

Voice capabilities have been added to Samsung phones
Voice capabilities have been added to Samsung phones

"Bixby is designed to also understand the way you actually speak, ask questions and make requests,'' Samsung  said in a statement.

"For example, if you take a photo and then tell Bixby to "send the picture just taken to Mum," Bixby understand cross-application commands and should know which photo you are referring to and text it to your mum.

"This natural language understanding makes interacting with your smartphone easier and more intuitive."

Samsung says it has been working in Australia to build Aussie vernacular into the commands, adding what is there now will be improved as more and more Australians use the Bixby system to interact with their phone.

Voice capabilities have been added to Samsung phones
Voice capabilities have been added to Samsung phones

Samsung is releasing tutorials to show people how they can make full use of Bixby.

Rather than a standalone app, it is designed to work with numerous apps.

For example, you will be able to use voice commands when driving to look up Google Maps - rather than typing on your phone - something which is both illegal and obviously dangerous.

Injong Rhee, executive vice president and head of R&D, software and services of the Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics said the expansion to other countries was just the first step in building a much smarter phone.

In the future, Bixby will have the learning power to offer more intelligent and personalised interactions and seamless connections across more devices."

Galaxy S8 and S8+2 users can enable Bixby's voice capabilities by pressing the Bixby button to begin onboarding.

Samsung says users can now activate Bixby by holding the dedicated button on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ phones, or by simply saying, "Hi, Bixby."

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The writer is in in New York as a guest of Samsung for the Note 8 launch.