Bixby, Samsung’s virtual assistant that will debut on the Galaxy S8 smartphone, won’t be fully available at launch, outside of phones sold in South Korea. While several features will work on international versions, those that rely on voice activation and control won’t operate, because Samsung apparently hasn’t perfected Bixby’s understanding of English yet.
Samsung says some features, including Home, Reminder, and Vision, will be ready for use on the global versions of the Galaxy S8, when it goes on sale later this month. However, “Bixby Voice will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 later this spring,” Samsung told the BBC in a statement.
When the Galaxy S8 was announced, Samsung had warned Bixby wouldn’t support all languages immediately, but no reason why was provided. It’s said Samsung doesn’t consider Bixby’s English language performance to be up to the same level as its competence in Korean, according to an anonymous source speaking to The Wall Street Journal. While Samsung didn’t give the BBC a launch date for English Bixby, the Journal’s source stated a late-May date was likely.
This puts it a month at least past the Galaxy S8’s release, which will leave the phone without one of its main features, and little use for the dedicated hardware button on the side of the device. Worse news for Samsung, is Google’s own Google Assistant will be present, and working in the same way it does on other compatible smartphones. Assistant may not be perfect, but a working voice assistant is better than a non-working voice assistant, and Samsung risks Bixby becoming forgotten by international users if it arrives too late.
The Galaxy S8 has been long awaited by Samsung fans, and needs to be a success after the failure of the Galaxy Note 7. Pre-sales numbers show that few are holding a grudge; but Samsung could certainly do without under-delivering on promised features.