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Samsung finally launches Bixby voice commands in the U.S.

HONG KONG  — Samsung users in the U.S. are finally getting the full range of features of the company’s digital assistant, Bixby.

Samsung users in the U.S. are finally getting the full range of features of the company’s digital assistant, Bixby as of July 19, 2017.
(Photo: CNN)

So far, users outside South Korea have only had access to limited versions of the artificial intelligence-enabled service.

Samsung said in a statement that users could update the software on their phones Wednesday to receive the “consumer version” of Bixby.

The updated version will have faster response times and more hands-free operations through voice commands, like “turn down the volume” when playing music or “read out the last messages” to listen to your texts.

The delay in rolling out the rival to Apple’s Siri was an embarrassing hiccup for Samsung.

Bixby had been expected to launch in the U.S. along with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone back in April — the first new flagship model from the company since the debacle over its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7.

But just a week before the S8 went on sale, Samsung said Bixby’s voice activation feature wouldn’t be available in the U.S. until “later this spring.”

The company has heavily promoted Bixby, insisting it is “fundamentally” different to rivals such as Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Last year, Samsung acquired startup Viv Labs — led by one of the creators of Siri — in an effort to broaden its AI capabilities. The startup’s own assistant, Viv, has the ability to handle more complex queries.

While Bixby was reportedly developed using Samsung’s in-house technology, the company says further updates will incorporate Viv’s features and tech.