Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Samsung opens its Bixby assistant to developers (techcrunch.com)
67 points by breck 70 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments

Bixby as presented at SDC today is built on a different platform than the Bixby most people are familiar with. (The new Bixby is the work of Samsung-owned Viv Labs.)

It really is an interesting platform that’s worth playing around with. You essentially define a set of “concepts and actions” (objects and functions, effectively), and then give Bixby example sentences for natural language training that specify which words represent input concepts and what the goal is (for instance, an action like “BookUber” or “FindHotel”), and Bixby dynamically generates the program for you, including adding steps on its own to prompt the user for missing information (i.e, you say “book a table at The French Laundry next Saturday at 7” and it knows it needs to ask you “for how many”). You can easily teach Bixby about context and continuing conversation, so you could say “change the reservation to Sunday” and it would know what you were talking about. And, it can even learn the user’s preferred defaults over time, so if you usually specify a table for two, it assumes that’s what you mean. (You’d be able to change that on a confirmation screen before it books anything, of course.)

Full disclosure: I’m a tech writer at Viv Labs, so I’m absolutely biased. :) But I acquired this bias from working with the product.

I wanted to try this bixby studio yesterday on GNU/Linux using wine, but UI was not rendering properly, but at least UI shows up with a couple of tricks, I wish this electron app was also packaged for GNU/Linux.


I think this might be a known issue. I’ll pass it on, either way!

I thought Bixby was always based on Viv tech? Was it just in-house pre-acquisition stuff before?

We all agreed a long time ago to never talk about S voice again.

It was its own thing before, fundamentally.


Is it possible to leverage this platform for general NLP recognition?

I don’t think it would be, as speech recognition and natural language processing are separate. But you’d probably want to reach out to Samsung about that. Or ask on Stack Overflow, possibly, as I believe the team’s going to start monitoring for Bixby-related questions there.

My experience with Bixby has been mixed as I am not too fond of the leveling system they have in place. However, I recently got a Samsung TV that has Bixby integrated and I dig it for the small tasks it can accomplish well such as changing the TV input selection. I can't wait to give the dev stuff a try!

On an unrelated note, I am pretty upset that my Samsung ~$1200 TV has ads built into it.

I'm annoyed that smart TVs are a thing; it's like having a smart monitor, it just doesn't make sense. I'd rather have a beautiful dumb display that I can plug in to the smart part, allowing the (relatively cheap) smart part to be upgraded without having to upgrade the (relatively expensive) display part.

Yeah, but it's pretty much impossible to find not-smart TVs. :(

All I want is a 65-75" 4K panel with 1 HDMI in and that's it. I'll handle the sources and switching and audio myself.

We've had Sony, Samsung, and LG Smart TVs over the last few years and all were slow, annoying, and all round shitty experiences. I barely use my TV now because I hate waiting for it to "start up" (Sony with Android TV.. "Please Wait" for what seems like forever before you can do ANYTHING on it).

It comes up nearly every time this topic is discussed here, but commercial series displays are what you are looking for. Prepare to pay more, but in exchange get a display that just functions as a display.

Paying more for fewer features doesn't make sense though. I'm also guessing the commercial displays also are tuned more for endurance and less for quality.

The pricing makes sense. Demand dictates price, not features. Products catering to a smaller market tend to cost more, especially if you are buying individual units from a supplier who usually sells in bulk.

LG's IT line[1] is not unreasonable in terms of pricing, especially if the purchaser is also paying the electric bill, demands long-lasting color accuracy or otherwise wants a purpose-built solution. I have not used one and I don't know if budget display manufacturers like TCL and Vizio have comparable products.

1. https://www.lg.com/us/business/commercial-display/it-product...

> The pricing makes sense. Demand dictates price, not features.

Sure, but lower demand would usually mean lower price, unless the consumers are willing to pay extra for something that other products are missing. In this case, I'm not sure what the other products are missing in comparison, but I'm also not familiar with these TV's.

My Android TV has more features, like the feature where I have to wait a full second for it to respond to pushing the volume up button.

(or, there's benefits to having a non-"smart" tv)

Ads are not a feature

It does when you don’t get adverts built in.

It's not for everyone, but projectors are mostly bereft of "smart" features. You plug in input sources, and that's it.

At least you can still use TV's without a network connected. For now.

So just ignore the "smart" features and use it as a dumb display? The additional cost is likely negligible if you're buying a $500+ TV.

That said, I would also boycott manufacturers/products that behave badly like Samsung mentioned in the above comment.

It's hard to ignore because the "smart" features tend to make the TV slow to start and the menus more sluggish and cluttered.

Problem is, you're not the general consumer. Most consumers would much rather have a smart tv that has all the simple stuff built in so they dont have to know how to configure anything complicaated

Right. The classic problem is having 4 different remotes and 4 different incantations to change inputs to the right "box". Having everything integrated into the same UI is a great step up.

Of course, if that UI is crap and then doesn't get upgraded, it negates all the advantages...

I wish HDMI-CEC worked better for everyone since it could theoretically solve the problem. It actually works well on our 7-year old TV. I don't even know where our AppleTV remote is (that one with the touch pad everyone keeps complaining about), we just use the TV's remote over HDMI-CEC.

Or Best Buy or Walmart want to differentiate commoditized products to consumers who can't tell the difference between two big black screens that look the same.

It's more about feature checklist pissing contests than any real benefit to the average consumer.

I disagree. A powerful smart TV is more practical for the average consumer than a more sophisticated system.

A big problem for entertainment lovers is that there are too many things to control, thus creating the all-in-one market. On the other hand, power users will insist on highly functional subcomponents that each bring a specific and glorious benefit.

And there you have it, all-in-one vs. subcomponents. Which does the average consumer belong?

i don't know, voice control for a TV sounds pretty cool. I generally hate voice control, but there's a few very specific tasks where I find it more useful than any other UI - namely setting an alarm or creating a calendar event. Changing the input on a TV could be one of those things, if only because every TV i've ever had has been so painful to change the inputs on.

You realize that unless you press a button, none of the smart stuff is visible? You can disable everything else.

On higher end TVs this isn’t the case, on LG WebOS for example the input selection is stored in the Smart Menu which is jammed full of ads.

No internet connection, no ads.

I'm pretty sure my Samsung smart TV that I never gave my wifi password has gotten internet access via the attached Roku.

How would that work?

Ethernet over HDMI is a standard, but I'm not aware of it being in use for something like that.

I have a C7P and I can't see where an ad might display in the input selection menu. Also the remote has an input select button and it also automatically switches between inputs if they support CEC, so you don't have to even pull up the menu.

That being said, I have only ever connected it to the Internet twice via Ethernet to update firmware. Otherwise it remains offline.

FWIW, the professional edition of windows 10 also comes with ads for games pre-installed in the start menu, I guess that's just the world we live in now...

Sure, but they can be removed in a few seconds.

Edit: I feel I should add, in fairness, that this has to be done (the removal) per account. I suspect that there is a system directory somewhere that is used as a template but I have not so far bothered to figure out where it is. I guess I've just gotten too accustomed to the 'Unpin from Start Menu' dance.

> Sure, but they can be removed in a few seconds.

They can haphazardly reappear in time. I've seen this happen on 2 completely unrelated PCs.

It's probably just bugged. I've found the W10 Start Menu in general to be dodgy. The keyboard-driven search seems like it's totally nondeterministic, e.g. exact string matches for the name of something in Control Panel sometimes finds it and sometimes doesn't.

The search speed is vastly worse than what it was on windows 8. A part of me wonders if that's due to the conversion from native languages to html+css+js for the start menu, but even so it's significantly laggy for that.

Another thing that really annoys me is that web results pop in above local results on the computer. I almost never search Bing via the start menu, and I'd love for a way to disable that but I also realize it's their main strategy for monetization for win 10 now that they're doing free rolling releases.

Wow, now even window is being written in js. Do you have any info or read on why this is the case?

>On an unrelated note, I am pretty upset that my Samsung ~$1200 TV has ads built into it.

Is it Samsung pushing the advertisements or is it Google (via Android TV)? This is the first I've heard of this. Gross.

Android TV is free of ads. There's some space in the launcher for recommendations from content apps and Play Store, but those can be customized and turned off.

Samsung doesn't use Android TV, so it's definitely 100% Samsung here.

That's not the point. You really shouldn't have to do this in the first place.

agreed, but what else can you actually do about it

Don't buy Samsung TVs. It's the same with websites, not using the service sends a stronger message than blocking ads

I bought it before ad's were "included". Honestly its a great tv if ad's are disabled. (ks8000) If the manufacturer can keep costs lower because of the ad's included then I believe I get a substantial benefit by blocking the ads at home.

IIRC it's Samsung that is pushing the ads. In my case that I observed there's some content analysis that is being done so that they push relevant "smart" ads while a classic ad is being shown. It turns out the day that I saw that ad was the same day I unplugged my TV from the network.

I would return that.

As far as I am concerned, if the TV contains ADS, it is totally not worth owning. Maybe if they gave one to me.

Maybe if they gave one to me.

Maybe we'll see a return to the 90's when you could get a free computer if you allowed it to show ads at the bottom of the screen.

Those companies went bust fast IIRC?

I think they hung on surprisingly long.

I know some people were asked to return their computers, but I've heard that some companies crashed so hard that the computers were just abandoned with their users.

Oh, look. Hacking toys. Thanks.

They appear within the TV's interface (Tizen OS).

> I am pretty upset that my Samsung ~$1200 TV has ads built into it.

Welp, never buying a Samsung TV.

If that's a deal breaker you probably have few options when buying your next tv, sad as it is.

I just don't use any of the "smart" crap. It's an input output device, don't need/want it to be more.

On an unrelated note, I am pretty upset that my Samsung ~$1200 TV has ads built into it.

Don't connect it to the interwebs. I don't have mine connected and have never seen an ad (granted it's two years old, so maybe it's only more recent models).

How is Netflix on that?

Great when you're furnishing the Netflix via HDMI.

I think this is the most sane answer. Yes we do not want 'smart TVs' and we should vote with our wallet... But when all else fails why not 'hack'[1] it?


Netflix are testing adverts unfortunately. https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/tv-and-ra...

I almost want to sign back up for Netflix just so I can cancel the first time they show me an ad.

It’s great, my Apple TV doesn’t show ads either, it’s kind of their “thing”. Thanks for asking!

I'm looking at a chromecast ultra. It'll do Netflix with 4K and HDR, plus all the other chromecast apps.

Plug in a set top box.

"my Samsung ~$1200 TV has ads built into it."

I don't have a TV but really?

Yep, lets talk about the main demographic for big box TVs.

- Used to being advertised to constantly so it's not really more of an intrusion.

- Typically don't realize they can or have little desire to impose their will on technology.

- Usually very price discriminating so shaving a few extra dollars off with ad revenue does translate into more sales.

- Have demonstrated their value as someone with disposable income.

- "Smart features" are a novelty value-add that's really cheap to include and has basically no user expectation of working.

Match made in heaven honestly. If you really want a dumb TV you pretty much have to find somewhere that sells commercial models but you're going to pay a huge premium. They're on the way out too since businesses just opt for just buying the cheper consumer models.

Your realistic options:

- Find a Smart TV that can pass as a dumb TV and just never network the thing. Sony is pretty not terrible.

- Buy a projector.

- Buy a TV with a built-in Chromecast or wait for Android TV to happen which might be a not terrible enough experience to actually use.

I'm confused by dismisal of smart tvs as "novelty value add[s]", while simultaneously saying "buy a tv with a built in chromecast". That's pretty much what smart televisions are.

Mine has multiple streaming clients built in that work perfectly fine. It's literally running Android. The biggest problem with it is that it uses some private LG app store. If it didn't, I wouldn't own a Apple TV, but as it is, the built in tv apps are where I spend 90% of my time. They work. They're updated frequently. The experience is just better.

Smart TVs where the software is managed by the hardware vendor are IMO garbage. I'm saying if you can find a TV where the smart features are provided and managed by company whose device you were going to plug in the back anyway (Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc.) then it's not too bad.

Isn't LG running webOS? Didn't think they had any Android based non "Android TV" models.

You're right, it is WebOS.

Honestly, it's pretty good, with the caveat that outside of the major streaming providers, the apps aren't very interesting. But it's not like we're talking a infotainment system from a car manufacturer, those things are 100% shit every time.

I love my Android TV, but I had to uninstall "Google play movies and TV" from it a few nights ago. It was playing movie trailers in the background of the home screen. I don't need to watch the trailer for skyscraper on continuous loop.

Auto-starting trailers for adult movies like Predator is a horrible experience if you have kids in the house. Who thought that's a good idea should never be allowed to make decisions.

Thanks for the idea to uninstall that app.

Wow. We are really moving into a sad future where we will be watched and advertised to all the time. I guess self driving cars will also have an ad screen you probably can turn off for a premium.

Wow. We are really moving into a sad future where we will be watched and advertised to all the time.

If you see any Zik Zak ads[1], run away as fast as you can!

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJP-Ilw_xaY

They couldn't pay me enough to use such a device.

I successfully squelched the ads in my $2k LG TV with a Pi-hole. Maybe I should have asked for more ads, they'd have given me a bigger discount.

This is exactly what I plan on doing. I am just upset with their existence.

I know what I'm doing this week. It's kind of ridiculous that even their OLEDs are ad-laden.

I have one of their 4k oled tvs, but I don't see which ads you are talking about ?

To be fair my tv is mostly used to read my hard drive, youtube, netflix and games and not even connected to regular channels, so maybe I am missing something to get them.

On LG OLEDs, when you press the Home button, there's a sidebar on the left that consumes about 1/5th of the screen with an ad. Free trial of Starz, that sort of thing.

ah yeah I might have seen that .. but too small of a disturbance to spend the time to remove it.

Samsung doesn't make OLEDS, so I'm guessing you are on a different brand running a different OS.

by their I meant LG

> On an unrelated note, I am pretty upset that my Samsung ~$1200 TV has ads built into it.

If you knew all the data it collects from you, you'd never give it internet access again:

- grabs the list of HDMI connected peripherals to see what other devices/consoles you use

- analyzes everything you watch using video recognition (similar to what Shazam does for music, so it works with shows that you download, stream, etc and yes it also works with porn)

- grabs the list of other devices it can see on the network so it knows if you're Mac or pc, iPhone or Android, etc

- cross advertises things on your other devices based on your browsing history (on your phone, computer) and viewing history from your tv: do you watch a lot of shows from HBO but you don't have a cable or satellite box connected to your tv? You'll now be a target for ads from HBO and your friendly neighborhood cable company to subscribe.

- tracks your tv viewing habits to provide real-time audience numbers and analytics to broadcasters

It's not like it's a secret, but the reach/extent of the surveillance is not very well known outside the adtech industry. Since working (and leaving in disgust) the industry, I swore to never ever give a smart TV my WiFi password. There is no good reason to do so, and it tries to exfilter way too much data to my liking.

A couple of years ago, it was literally just device control. $215 million for device control.


Yeah I had this. I simply blocked the TV from accessing the Samsung ad domains while leaving things like Netflix accessible.

Filter by MAC address.

> On an unrelated note, I am pretty upset that my Samsung ~$1200 TV has ads built into it.

On a lighter note, don’t TVs have ads anyway?

No, shitty TV stations have ads. Not all of us watch that trash.

Does this mean we can finally turn off the dedicated physical button or repurpose it? I'm not holding my breath.

I turned it off in the Bixby settings on my S8. I tried repurposing, but nothing worked reliably for too long, so I decided to just nix it.

I disabled Bixby and Facebook, my phone is flying, battery is amazing . Check out the ADB shell commands to uninstall/hide packages. Seriously, the phone didn't last more than 8 hours, now passed 14 hours and I will have 42 battery.

Were you able to turn it off without signing up for a Samsung Account and accepting hundreds of pages of ToS?

To be honest, I don't know if you can do it without a Samsung account, because I signed up when I first got the phone a year ago, but they only recently allowed disabling of the button in the settings (you had to use a third party app that would suppress it).

I was up to a point, except that a really long press of the button still goes to bixby.

Yeah, the long press opens up the 'Bixby Voice' to accept voice input. Happens even when the phone is locked. A bit annoying, but thankfully rare.

Look at the app bxActions, you can do that today.

Looking at the permissions that app requires, I would recommend not installing it at any cost.

Of course it needs that permissions, that's how it works. If you can't make an informed decision then don't do it but otherwise it's no different than doing anything as root or administrator on your PC. Sometimes you need to run with elevated permissions to get something done.

You could always build one from source: https://github.com/wangrunz/BixbyRemap

That isn't the same application. The application you linked does not require anywhere near the number of permissions that one does[1]

[1] https://github.com/wangrunz/BixbyRemap/blob/master/app/src/m...

yes it basically hijacks the phone

You mean what Samsung did in the first place?

It's a hacky workaround.

Is there still a lot of energy being devoted to voice assistants? We seem to have hit a very deep trough on the hype cycle. And I'm not really surprised.

Yes. They are a very big bet for Apple, Google, Samsung, and Amazon. Nearly half of Americans use them, mostly on their phones [0].

[0] https://www.google.com/amp/www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/201...

Amazon is hiring 1000+ devs to work on their Alexa stuff.

who cares

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact