Samsung's virtual assistant Bixby will not be available in English for the Galaxy S8 launch

Lian Parsons
The Galaxy S8 will not have Bixby for its initial launch (Source: Getty)

Samsung’s voice-activated virtual assistant will not be ready for the much-anticipated Galaxy S8’s 21 April launch.

Bixby was marketed as one of the key components of the new phone, but following recent tests, the AI did not perform as well with English as it did with Korean. The English version won’t be available until later this spring, Samsung said.

Bixby is facing some stiff competition from other AI features like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Bixby’s features include:

  • Controlling system functions like brightness and WiFi connections

  • Controlling some of Samsung’s pre-installed apps for reminders and messaging

  • An intelligent camera feature that identifies objects and gives information like purchase links or places to visit near your current location

  • A home screen that provides recommended information cards like weather, news updates and suggested contacts

  • Completing multiple tasks with one command like calling a taxi and looking up a nearby restaurant

  • Searching through and organising photos

Samsung’s hesitance to release the new AI may be due to the explosive battery problems with the Galaxy Note 7 leading to 2.5m recalled devices. The company may not want to push out the feature before it’s ready.

However, users seem more interested in the phone’s aesthetic more than anything else. According to a survey last month conducted by Fluent LLC, a marketing technology company, about 75 per cent of respondents said they don’t care whether or not a phone has a virtual assistant and would rather it be waterproof or have a longer battery life.

CW Chung, an analyst at Nomura said the delays in the update are unlikely to drastically affect S8 sales.

“The voice assistant feature is not that appealing for consumers yet, as it is just at the beginning stage for everyone. Samsung may have had high expectations for Bixby, but consumers don’t,” he said.

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