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Samsung confirms it IS developing a smart speaker featuring its Bixby assistant to take on Apple, Amazon and Google

August 23, 2017 9:03 PM
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Samsung has confirmed the firm will 'soon' release a smart speaker designed to take on Amazon's Echo, Google's Home and Apple's HomePod.

DJ Koh, the president of Samsung's mobile division, told CNBC a smart speaker was on the way.

'Maybe soon we will announce it. I am already working on it,' Koh said.

'As I mentioned I wanted to provide a fruitful user experience at home with Samsung devices, and I want to be moving quite heavily on it,' he added.

The secret project is believed to be codenamed Vega, although little is known about the details of the device.

It will use Bixby, the company's digital personal assistant currently found on the flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone and Note 8 device.

After months of delays, Samsung finally launched its Bixby voice assistant in more than 200 countries worldwide this week.

Among the countries with access to the smart assistant are the UK, Australia, Canada and South Africa – although it can only understand American English and Korean.

Bixby is a smart assistant, similar to Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana.

It operates through 'Quick Commands' – a feature that allows users to create custom voice commands.

Koh said that this first version of Bixby is 'just a baby', but the long-term ambitions is to have the digital assistant able to control all sorts of devices.

'In Samsung, there are many customers using Samsung TVs, refrigerators, washing machines and smartphones.

'If those kinds of devices are connected and then you can control by just using voice, that is my vision,' Koh told CNBC.

The voice assistant can also use deep learning technology to understand the way you speak, ask questions and make requests.

For example, if you take a photo and then tell Bixby to 'send the picture just taken to Mum,' the assistant will know which photo you are referring to and will text it to your mum.

Bixby also improves over time to recognise your personal preferences and style of speaking.

A report in the Wall Street Journal previously claimed that Samsung is working on a smart speaker.

Details are very minimal, and the report does not mention any specifications, features or a release date.

The Samsung speaker will take on Apple's HomePod, Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

Apple's speaker will have a higher price tag than the Amazon Echo range, which begins at $49 (£49) for the Echo Dot.

Samsung's speaker will face stiff competition from Apple's HomePod, which was revealed last month, Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot speakers, and Google's Home speaker.

The connected speaker market has been growing steadily in recent years.

Amazon released its Echo range of speakers in 2014, followed by Google Home appeared a year later.

Microsoft has also opened up its Cortana assistant for use in third-party speakers.

Meanwhile, last month, Apple said its Siri-powered HomePod will be available by the end of the year.


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