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Who is Bixby? We went to South Korea to meet Samsung’s new A.I.

Bixby, what’s the number for 911?

We’re counting down the days to the official reveal on March 29th of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, probably the most leaked-about cell phone since… well, ever. But less is known about Bixby, the digital A.I. assistant that Samsung will introduce, and they say will be an integral part of the S8 experience. It’s a feature so crucial and different, Bixby will have its own dedicated button on the phone.

“Digital assistants” are nothing new to smartphones – we already have Siri, Cortana and others, but Samsung’s Bixby is going in a new direction, which of course Samsung hopes will differentiate it from what is suddenly becoming a crowded market of high-end phones with A.I. helpers inside. DT Editor in Chief Jeremy Kaplan flew to Digital City in South Korea to talk with Injong Rhee, a head of R&D at Samsung, about what makes Bixby so different.

For one thing, Bixby isn’t going to work like Siri or Cortana. Instead of getting weather reports and telling bad jokes, Bixby will instead be focused on helping you use the Galaxy S8. Because let’s face it: smartphones are so complex now, we typically only use a fraction of their vast capabilities. However, like Siri and Cortana, Bixby will be driven by spoken language, a still-challenging technological feat that is proving incredibly tough to master.

Check out Jeremy’s in-depth article, which includes the story behind how they came up with Bixby’s name, and more information about Samsung’s Digital City.

September is almost sort of virtually here

More smartphone news now, and this time Apple’s iPhone 8 is back in the spotlight, this time no for what it might look like, but for what it might be able to do.

The folks over at Bloomberg have gone on a deep dive into Apple’s foray in AR, or Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality’s more, shall we say, useable cousin. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he sees AR – not VR – as the next big thing, and he and his Apple team are hard at work on various projects with AR at the core – and that includes the iPhone 8.

Cook tells Bloomberg he thinks smartphones – and not fancy headsets or glasses – are the better vehicle for easing consumers into using VR, and we can’t say we disagree – just think of how Pokemon Go – an AR game – shook the tech industry, and society to some degree last year, and not a single headset was involved. Apple is devoting a lot of smart people, designers, and corporate resources to their AR projects, so go here to read more about their big plans.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is feeling some strain

Resting up for the big release of Mass Effect: Andromeda tomorrow? Remember, sleep is a good thing, as is occasional exercise and actual nutrition. But the big question of course, is how much fun is it to actually play the game? DT game reviewer Phil Hornshaw got an early copy of the game and has the lowdown on what to expect. Big, colorful galaxy full of adventure? You bet. Top-level game play? Well, you should read the review.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.