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Samsung Galaxy S8 to offer AI assistant to rival Pixel phones

Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which is due to be released next year, will offer a virtual assistant that will let users order food or perform other tasks without going through a third-party application.

The feature should add functionality similar to Google’s recently released Pixel phones which also include an AI (artificial intelligence) assistant that can be accessed from any screen. 

Samsung joined the race to create the digital assistant service when it acquired Viv Labs in October, a Silicon Valley start-up launched by the same entrepreneurs who sold Siri to Apple.

The early reveal of the new feature could be an attempt to draw attention away from its Note 7 which was found to explode  in enough cases to warrant the withdrawal of the entire product line. 

Sales of the S8 will be crucial for the recovery of Samsung’s mobile business, which saw its profits slashed following the debacle.

The AI service will also be made available in Samsung’s other consumer electronics products, such as fridges but the company would not reveal what specific tasks the S8 phone would perform through the new feature.

Samsung estimates it has lost at least £4.3bn as it discontinued the Note 7 model, which overheated and caught fire. The company said last month that it had not determined what went wrong with the phones.

Past and current Samsung phones offer a voice assistant service called ‘S Voice’ developed internally, but the feature did not gain much traction.

Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs was seen as its taking another step to seek independence from Google, which offers its brand of virtual assistant service in Android-powered devices.

Executives at Samsung and Viv Labs said the biggest difference between the existing digital assistant and the one they were jointly developing was that the latter would be an ‘open AI platform’, meaning that third-party developers will be able to offer their services through Samsung’s AI platform.

“Our Galaxy smartphones don’t provide services that enable consumers to order pizza or coffee, but do provide third-party applications. But the new AI platform will enable consumers to do things that they would usually do through a separate third-party application,” a Samsung statement said.


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