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Bixby, where are you?

Bixby, where are you?
From Engadget - July 6, 2017

Samsung's AI-powered voice assistant is nowhere to be seen. Seeing as the company is keen on making Bixby the center of its consumer universe, the missing voice assistant is more than just a mystery; it's also a liability.

When Samsung showed off Bixby at the S8 launch event in March, it wowed the audience, and frankly, us. The company claimed that the voice interface was so intuitive that you could control the phones as effectively as you could with the touchscreen. That's a lofty goal, and would make it even more powerful and more capable than Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant.

Bixby, it seems, can do more than just launch an app or check the weather. Bixby also promises to be contextually aware, potentially adding appointments and reminders without you having to do so manually. Plus, it wants to do all of it with natural language processing, so you do not have to give perfect directions in order for it to work well.

If that all sounds too good to be true, well, maybe that's because it is. When the phone launched, it was without Bixby Voice on board (though it still had Bixby Home, a home screen alternative to Google Home, and Bixby Vision, an augmented reality camera that can identify objects it captures). Instead, the company said that the voice assistant would arrive later than the actual hardware. From a company that usually has no problem churning out products, this seemed a little odd.

As the calendar flipped from April to May, Bixby still was not ready. Apparently stymied by the complexities of the English language, Samsung just could not get Bixby up to snuff. (It did, however, manage to get the Korean language version out the door in May). "Bixby Voice benefits from time to further enhance natural language understanding," said a Samsung spokesperson to the Wall Street Journal at the time. Later in June, the company opened up an "early preview test" of Bixby so that it could give some users a taste of how it works, and also get a wider data sample.

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