Not to be outdone by Apple’s Siri-powered HomePod, Samsung is reportedly developing an artificial intelligence-equipped smart speaker of its own. According to the Korea Herald, the Seoul, Korea-based electronics giant’s upcoming, unannounced device will tap Bixby, Samsung’s omniscient digital assistant, to respond to questions and commands with voice.
Here’s everything we know so far.
Release date, pricing, and availability
Samsung’s premium smart speaker has now been confirmed to launch in the second half of this year. Following the company’s debut of the Galaxy S9 at Mobile World Congress 2018, the CEO of Samsung’s mobile division, DJ Koh, announced that the smart speaker will “make its debut in the second half of this year.” This is a bit later than original reports suggested, which had us hoping for a launch in the first half of 2018.
That said, there have been a number of delays already, as earlier rumors placed the product launch in late 2017. Problems the English language version of Bixby may have delayed the project.
According to a 2017 report published in The Investor, Samsung questioned its decision to create a smart speaker in such a competitive market. An anonymous source familiar with the project said Samsung questioned the marketability of an artificial intelligence-powered speaker, especially in a market where Amazon has all but cornered the industry with its popular line of Echo smart speakers.
Unfortunately, voice recognition problems reportedly stopped Samsung’s previous attempts to launch a smart speaker. Samsung attempted to create a similar project in 2015, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal, but the project was scrapped due to software issues.
Details are scarce right now, but Patently Apple points to a Samsung patent awarded in March as the groundwork for the company’s smart speaker. However, a more recent Bloomberg article states that the speaker will be between the size of the current Amazon Echo and Apple’s HomePod. The report also says that the speaker may come in a variety of colors. Samsung opted for lights on the speaker to provide visual feedback as opposed to a screen which was rumored earlier.
The Bixby-powered Samsung speaker appears to be targeted toward the premium smart speaker market. Bloomberg reports that Samsung is placing a high priority on audio quality and smart home features.
Samsung’s Bixby speaker could support media casting, like Apple’s AirPlay and Google’s Cast on Google Home. Already, Samsung’s Smart View app for iOS and Android lets you beam content from providers like YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and your phone’s local media; and channels from TV Plus, Samsung’s Fandango-powered streaming channels.
When Samsung launched Bixby in 2016 — first revealed by Digital Trends — it emphasized the assistant’s ability to collate information in a single, convenient stream. Bixby Home on the Galaxy S8 shows upcoming reminders and social media updates, and supports third-party services like CNN, Spotify, Flipboard, Facebook Foursquare, and Twitter. Eventually, Samsung says it’ll be able to learn your routine and update to reflect how you use your phone throughout the day.
Samsung’s Bixby speaker will likely support reminders, too, much like Bixby on the Galaxy S8. They’re built into the Galaxy S8’s native apps, and let you attach media like videos, websites, photos, and messages. You can set a specific time you’d like to see a reminder or even a specific location. When the conditions are met, the reminder will appear in the form of a notification you can dismiss, snooze, or check off.
Updated on February 26: The Samsung Bixby speaker will reportedly make its debut in the second half of 2018.