Reviewers can be extremely critical of new products or software without giving them a fair shot. Case in point, Bixby on the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Bixby is Samsung’s virtual assistant, similar to what Google has with the Google Assistant, Microsoft with Cortana, Apple with Siri, and Amazon with Alexa. Bixby was released with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, and just about everyone is claiming it is useless and unnecessary. Samsung even installed a hard button on the side of the S8 to call up Bixby and didn’t allow for consumers to swap it for other options.
Why anyone would think Samsung would make it easy to switch is beyond me. Google doesn’t give users the option to swap out the Assistant just like Apple and Amazon with their respective smart assistants. However where Samsung differs, is it allows for the use of both the Google Assistant and Bixby on the same device. If you want to install Alexa on your Galaxy S8, you can install the Amazon shopping app where you can use Alexa.
Bixby is new, and with any new software there will always be room for improvement. Software is never in a fixed state and companies are always looking for ways to improve upon it. Most reviewers don’t like Bixby because it is new and they don’t think there is a need for it. The same argument could be made against Alexa when Amazon first released it on the Echo, because Google Now and Siri already existed. However, if you look at the list of companies with smart assistants, it only makes sense that Samsung would come up with its own too. I think Samsung has a vision for where it wants to put its assistant, and that’s in automobiles where Google and Apple have failed rather mightily. Samsung has to start somewhere, so why not with the most advanced smartphone of 2017?
Samsung thinks it can make a better smart assistant, and if you buy its Galaxy S8 you should give it a fair shot before you look to replace it. It’s not useless like countless websites say it is. There are a variety of features that are quite useful like a quick view for activity tracking which Siri, Alexa and Google Now do not offer. It also has quick access to the Samsung Theme and Wallpaper store which are two very popular items among Galaxy users. It also shows you the news, weather, upcoming events on your calendar and is a quick spot for reminders similar to Google Now Cards. Bixby is also apart of the Camera app where it can view what you’re looking at, and attempt to find similar images or products for sale. In 50 attempts, on things around my home, Bixby Vision worked quite well at identifying 38 of the items. There is still a ways to go, but Google’s competitive product in Google Goggles, seemed to have been abandoned after it was released several years ago. At the time of its release, it was quite revolutionary, but now it’s an afterthought just like many of Google’s other beta projects. With Samsung continuing image recognition, there’s help on the way for many people who aren’t search experts.
Bixby Vision has a special area dedicated to helping users determine details of a bottle of wine. While a lot of tech reviewers might find this useless for their own personal needs because they don’t drink wine, there are plenty of us who do. The Galaxy S8 is a premium phone and there’s probably a good chance that people who can afford to buy their own Galaxy S8, not just get free review units, drink wine too.
Wine is one area where a label on the bottle tells you almost nothing about what is inside, besides the date it was made and a little about the winery. Wine lovers have to do quite a bit of research on wine if they want to know exactly what they’re buying, and having Bixby Vision help us out is a pretty nifty tool since it speeds up the process. I tried Bixby Vision on 10 bottles of wine I own and it happened to identify eight of them properly. The most impressive identification was of a bottle of Sofia wine that had a wet label.
There is plenty more about Bixby than meets the typical tech reviewer’s eye. It’s not as useless as the vast majority of them say it is, and I can imagine plenty of users who aren’t smartphone enthusiasts (average smartphone users) who would love Bixby. When I showed Bixby features to friends and coworkers they thought it was something they would use if they owned the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Bixby is far from perfect, but so is Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. I’ve heard people say they hate Siri and wish it was better. Google just changed over to the Assistant when Google Now was working, and after just a few months, tech reviewers are complaining less because Google continues to update it with new features. Samsung will do the same for Bixby, and as it matures it will only get better. Samsung is pushing Bixby and is trying to do better than Apple and Google, and I have no problems with that. There’s room for improvement on all of these smart assistants, so having Bixby might force the competition to get better too. With the purchase of Harmon, I have real hopes of using Bixby as a voice assistant in my truck when the feature rolls out. There’s a real need for voice commands in automobiles as people simply won’t put down their phones endangering those around them.
Try it out for yourself before you try to eliminate Bixby and overlay the Google Assistant over it. Give it a couple of weeks to give it a fair assessment. Anytime something is new, there’s always a learning curve that might be frustrating, but once you learn it fully you can then make your own educated decision.
Learn more about Bixby at Samsung.com.