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Photo via Jamie McCall/Flickr (CC-BY-ND)
Here’s how it could be different than Alexa or Siri.
The smart home speaker space is gearing up to be the year’s most competitive home electronics area. While Amazon, Apple, and Google already have options available, a Samsung smart speaker is also in the works.
DJ Koh, Samsung’s mobile division chief, confirmed that Samsung is working on its own smart home speaker. In an interview with CNBC ahead of Thursday’s Galaxy Note 8 launch, Koh said the company will announce it “maybe soon.” The company is working on it, but Koh didn’t provide any further details about how the speaker would function or what it would look like.
Still, we can surmise that Samsung’s smart speaker would utilize Bixby, the virtual assistant introduced with the Galaxy S 8. However Bixby’s a bit different than Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. Bixby is more about helping you get tasks done more quickly using voice commands. On the S 8, you can use it to adjust your screen brightness, message a photo to a friend, or take a screen grab on your phone. Both Alexa and Siri (and Google’s Assistant) all tap into more general knowledge smarts—they can answer trivia-type questions along with other facts or stats.
Even if Bixby doesn’t end up fulfilling that aspect of a smart speaker assistant, it could be useful in controlling your smart home. And Samsung has a lot of other smart home products. Introducing a speaker as a hub for connecting and controlling them all certainly makes sense.
It’s unclear when Samsung’s smart home speaker would arrive or how much it will cost. From a sales perspective, it would be logical to release it ahead of the holiday season. But if not, perhaps we’ll see an unveiling at next year’s CES. With Apple’s HomePod set to arrive in December for $349, perhaps Samsung is gunning to release its speaker before then.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.