Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) is getting accolades for the redesigned Galaxy S8, but Bixby, its voice-activated virtual assistant aimed at taking on Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) Siri, Alphabet’s Google (GOOG) Assistant and Amazon’s (AMZN) Alexa, it isn’t getting as positive reviews.
Tech blog Digital Trends, for one, called Bixby “boring,” saying that while Bixby has been presented as a feature that will pave the way for smartphone users to do a slew of “cool things in the future,” at the launch “it came across more half-baked, filled with features already available elsewhere, that isn’t close to being ready for the public.” (See also: Samsung's All-Important Galaxy S8 Garners Positive Reviews.)
Can You Hear Me Now?
Meanwhile, Gizmodo was less harsh, saying it’s not sure if Bixby is up to the task of competing with the big boys—namely Siri, Alexa and Google’s Assistant, but noted that Bixby can translate 52 languages, which is better than the 30 Siri is capable of translating.
Google doesn’t provide an official count, but Gizmodo said it’s in line with Alexa. Tech2, another tech website, also expressed disappointment with Bixby at the launch, saying that while it was billed as being smart and able to get even smarter, it “was not as awesome as we expected it to be.”
Tech2 said that Bixby is supposed to be different than other voice-activated personal assistants because it'll complete tasks rather than start or help with them, but so far it’s hard to tell if that’s possible.
“Bixby is indeed not ready for showtime just yet,” concluded Tech2. Last week Samsung took the wraps off Bixby, ahead of the launch of the Galaxy S8. After the famous misfire with the debut of the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung had a lot riding on the S8, which is a hit in terms of design and features. When Samsung announced Bixby, it positioned it as a game changer, saying Bixby is designed to help customers use Samsung devices and more easily complete tasks. “Technology is supposed to make life easier, but as the capabilities of machines such as smartphones, PCs, home appliances and IoT devices become more diverse, the interfaces on these devices are becoming too complicated for users to take advantage of many of these functions conveniently,” wrote Samsung’s Injong Rhee, executive vice president and head of R&D, software and services, in a blog post announcing Bixby. As a result, Samsung has a new way to solve the problem by having the machine learn and adapt to the user instead of vice versa. Ever since Samsung acquired Viv, the company founded by the original creators of Siri, Wall Street has been expecting a more robust voice-activated virtual assistant from Samsung.