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Samsung Galaxy S8's Killer Feature Lands Months Late

Image: Samsung
Image: Samsung

Samsung’s AI assistant Bixby is finally available in the US—months late. But, hey, at least it doesn’t explode.

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Akin to Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, Bixby is a voice service that lives inside the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones. It was first announced in March and was supposed to arrive by the end of spring, but the feature kept being delayed because Samsung, allegedly, didn’t have enough data to teach the assistant English.

Since April 21, people who bought a Galaxy S8 phone have been walking around with an unfinished product. The device comes with its own dedicated Bixby button, but until today it didn’t properly work for most users. It’s unclear how functional the AI is today, but Samsung has said it will grow with users the more often it’s used.

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In its original press release, Samsung set expectations sky high for Bixby, claiming it would excel at understanding natural language, unlike its competitor Siri. So if you were to ask Bixby, “what’s the forecast like today?” or any other variation of the question, it (Samsung claims) would still show you the weather. Bixby is also supposed to be better at working with third-party apps. So if you were to tell it to change your destination in Google Maps, Bixby would do it—Siri wouldn’t.

Late to its own party, Samsung is now attempting to coax people into using Bixby by offering them points. S8 users who use Bixby will earn experience points (XP) the more they engage with it. Those points can then be exchanged for prizes such as Samsung products, gift cards, and trips. It’s the least Samsung can do after bungling Bixby’s launch. The promotion will last until September 14.

[Samsung]

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DISCUSSION

I don’t know how it’s the killer feature - I signed up for early access to it - but it wasn’t even something I *considered* when I looked at the phone, wasn’t something that was even on my list of pros/cons when I bought two of them, and really has only been annoying when I accidentally activate it.

Honestly I’d say it’s about the most useless piece of crap added to my phone, but I’ve not deleted it yet just in case I actually run into a situation that it might be useful in - so far that has been never.

Same could be said of siri or google - the only time I’ve ever seen someone talk to their phone in real life - it was to show off the novelty. Your mileage (of course) may vary.