Make way, Bixby: Samsung is opening up its 2019 TV lineup to other voice assistants. The company has announced that users will be able to control its upcoming QLED sets with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. But there’s one catch: you’ll have to provide the assistant device — be it an Echo, Google Home, or other smart speaker — yourself. Samsung’s TVs will understand and execute commands they receive from Alexa or Assistant, but the only built-in voice helper will continue to be Bixby.
Also, we’re talking about fairly rudimentary support here. Alexa and Google Assistant can control volume, turn your TV on or off, switch inputs, or launch select apps. Bixby has deeper, more advanced capabilities since it’s woven into Samsung’s Tizen TV software. You can speak to Bixby with your Samsung TV remote control, but not the others.
But this is still an important acknowledgement from Samsung that millions of people have already invested in the ecosystems from Amazon or Google — with even more coming on over the holiday season these last few weeks. With over 100 million Alexa devices out there, it’d be a little stubborn to just ignore them. By contrast, Samsung’s Bixby-powered Galaxy Home speaker hasn’t even shipped to consumers yet. The digital assistant remains limited to Samsung’s smartphones, wearables, TVs, and appliances.
Samsung hasn’t yet committed to bringing Alexa / Assistant support to older TVs, but the company has a history of updating prior-year models a few months after its latest sets hit the market, so it’s a possibility.