FILE - In this Friday, March 24, 2017, file photo, the Bixby function of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 is demonstrated in New York. Samsung Electronics says its Bixby voice assistant will start speaking English but only in two countries: South Korea and the U.S. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Hi Bixby: Samsung phone's voice assistant now speaks English

July 19, 2017 - 2:39 am

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics said its Bixby voice assistant for smartphones will start speaking English but only in two countries: South Korea and the U.S.

The South Korean tech giant said starting Wednesday, users of the Galaxy S8 smartphones can speak in American English to their phones to turn on the flashlight, take a selfie or make the phone search for say, pictures from a summer vacation, and create an album.

Samsung did not say why it could not make Bixby in English available to users outside South Korea or the U.S. or when it will become available in other languages in other countries.

The service, comparable to Apple's Siri or Google Assistant, was previously available only in Korean.

Samsung says its virtual assistant can be activated by saying "Hi Bixby" to the phone or by clicking a button on the side of the S8 phones.

The rollout of the Bixby English version was delayed by a couple of months. Samsung's mobile chief Koh Dong-jin had earlier told reporters that the service would be available in English before June.

It also comes about one month before Samsung is widely expected to announce its latest iteration of the Galaxy Note smartphone after the discontinuation of its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 phone last year.

Samsung, the world's largest smartphone maker, is a latecomer in the virtual assistant race. Its rivals introduced their versions several years ago but the company said it believes its status as the world's dominant mobile device manufacturer will give it an edge. Bixby also enables users to find more information about real-world items by pointing a phone's camera.

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