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Samsung

When it bought Viv Labs last year, Samsung said it planned to make the company's voice-powered assistant a key part of its future.

Now, just ahead of next week's debut of the Galaxy S8, Samsung is offering mored details on Bixby, as the assistant is now known. The Korean electronics giant says that Bixby, unlike Apple's Siri or Google's Assistant will be able to tackle most anything a smartphone app as opposed to handling just a small subset of features.

"Bixby is at the heart of our software and services evolution as a company," Samsung R&D chief InJong Rhee said in a blog post on Monday. "As the Bixby ecosystem grows, we believe Bixby will evolve from a smartphone interface to an interface for your life."

Bixby will begin life handling tasks for Samsung's built-in apps for the S8, but will be added over time to other Samsung products, including TVs and appliances. Other app makers will also be able to allow Bixby to work with their apps.

Why it matters: Afrticial intelligence and voice-powered computing are seen as key areas for computing, not just for phones but also for all manner of devices. It also puts Samsung back in software competition with Google, an area where Samsung has not had much success.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"