Samsung is reportedly working on a Bixby-powered smart speaker designed to take on the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod. That’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which suggests its being worked on under the codename Vega.
Bixby is the voice assistant that Samsung launched alongside its Galaxy S8 smartphone. At the time of its unveiling, Samsung promised it to be a new breed of voice assistant, allowing users to perform any function they would normally do by touch, by using their voice. This makes sense on the Galaxy S8, where users could tweak settings on the fly, although it’s not quite clear how the company intends to compete with the other smart speakers on the market.
Samsung’s approach will likely mimic that of Apple’s. While the company’s smart speaker will likely offer smart home control, and will probably act as a hub for SmartThings; expect this to be an audiophile’s speaker. Samsung’s recent acquisition of Harman should further bolster the audio quality of the company’s smart speaker.
Any launch of a Bixby-powered smart speaker will require Samsung to work on improving its in-house voice assistant first. When the Galaxy S8 smartphone launched, Bixby was only available in the company’s native of South Korea, and not in English. That’s supposedly down to the fact that the company lacks data to make it available in the English language.
Samsung will have a lot of competition on its hands in the crowded smart speaker market. While the Amazon Echo and Google Home have become the dominant players, new entries from the likes of Apple and Microsoft will make it tough for Samsung to break ground. Bixby is still a relatively unknown voice assistant for the vast majority of speakers, with Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and Alexa now well established.
Although this will be Samsung’s first smart speaker, the company’s Harman subsidiary already makes one in partnership with Microsoft. The Harman Kardon Invoke is a Cortana-powered speaker that was officially announced just two months ago. It’s expected to launch in the autumn, meaning Samsung could eventually be competing with itself. It’s unknown when a Bixby-powered smart speaker will launch, however. Samsung has yet to confirm its features and specifications, let alone a release window.