Samsung freezes out Alexa, opts for Bixby in Family Hub smart fridges

This year’s Consumer Electronic Show hasn’t yet started, but we already can tell — just from the slew of emails in our inboxes — that Alexa and other voice assistants will be big. One of the major trends from last year’s show was Alexa in everything, but for CES 2018, Samsung is bucking the trend by adding a different voice assistant into its smart Family Hub refrigerator: Bixby.

In the Samsung Family Hub fridge, Bixby will activate when you say something like, “Bixby, add grapes to my shopping list.”

Samsung announced the plan to put its voice assistant into its TVs and Hub fridges last year. Initially, Bixby launched in the U.S. in Galaxy S8 phones (after some delays), then slowly made updates and improvements over the next few months. Samsung claims Bixby is an improvement over Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa because its AI can adapt to you, learning from your habits and speech patterns. Not everyone loves it on their phones, but it’s still young compared to Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

In the Samsung Family Hub fridge, Bixby will activate when you say something like, “Bixby, add grapes to my shopping list.” The Family Hub also integrates with grocery delivery apps like Instacart. If you want to listen to music through the fridge’s speakers, Bixby can connect to Pandora or Spotify. The voice assistant can also take a few tasks away from the Family Hub’s screen, by telling you the weather or what events are on your calendar. The fridge has profiles to let family members get more personalized results, and Bixby is also supposed to be able to distinguish between users’ voices.

In addition to Bixby, Samsung’s Smart Hub gateway is getting an app overall, ditching the appliances app for SmartThings integration — an open platform that works with hardware from Philips, Netgear, ecobee, and many more companies, putting all your connected gear under one app.

Owners will also be able to browse new apps on the fridge, like Pinterest and Buzzfeed’s Tasty. A new Meal Planner gives families recipes based on what’s in the fridge, favorite foods, and dietary restrictions. With four new models coming later in 2018, Samsung brings the total to 14 Family Hub refrigerators, though as of now they all cost over $3,000.


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