Life with Bixby is equal parts futuristic and frustrating

Life with Bixby is equal parts futuristic and frustrating
From Engadget - July 14, 2017

The good

Samsung's goal is to create a way to speak to a phone that was as effective at getting things done as using a touchscreen. That's ambitious, but Samsung mostly managed to deliver. Sticking to the "open this and do that" format certainly helps, but Bixby is surprisingly good at figuring out what you are saying and piecing together the steps needed to take the correct action.

Let's say I am bored and want to check out stuff on YouTube -- saying "open YouTube and show me subscriptions" worked like a charm every time. Casually phrased requests can work pretty well, too, though there's a greater chance of Bixby slipping up. Even so, you can do a lot -- asking it to show you photos you took in New York works, as does cropping one of them with your voice. Even asking Bixby to download apps like Audible and Pocket Casts worked perfectly. Bixby's preferred syntax might be stricter, but Siri and Google Assistant ca not do that. And beyond that, I really dig the idea of hearing about a cool app and just telling my phone to install it, rather than pecking at a keyboard and tapping on a screen to do the same thing. It's a very real taste of a voice-controlled future we have been promised for so long.

Using a physical button to invoke Bixby is also an excellent idea. It's strangely satisfying, for one -- it felt like I was using a walkie-talkie to chat with my enthusiastic assistant. More importantly, it gives Bixby a clear understanding of when your request starts and stops, a feat that can be tricky if you are launching any assistant with just your voice.

The bad

Getting Bixby's attention with the button is great, but I have had some trouble invoking it with the wake-up phrase. In fact, while writing that last sentence, I had to say "Hi, Bixby" six time before it responded. Depending on your environment, all virtual assistants can be bad at recognizing their names, but Bixby seemed more prone to missing its wake-up call than Siri or Google's Assistant.

You are supposed to be able to use Bixby to send messages and post photos with captions on Instagram, which technically works. Because of Bixby's incompleteness, though, I just ca not trust it to accurately transcribe what I am saying. After all, the language we use to communicate with other people is beautiful and complex and steeped in context -- context that Bixby just does not have a grasp on yet. Given the limited amount of time the assistant has been exposed to native English speakers, this is not a surprise.

The strange


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