The new Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ have a lot going in their favor. Right from the gorgeous design, and edge-to-edge bezel-less display, to one of the best smartphone cameras and top of the line hardware, both smartphones are fully loaded. But, to differentiate them from other Android counterparts, Samsung has included its own Artificial Intelligence (AI) based personal assistant, Bixby. But, is it any better than the already available Google Assistant? Also Read - Samsung and LG confirm presence at in-person CES 2022Also Read - Google announces six new Android features, which will roll out this year
AI and machine learning are turning out to be the current buzz word, which is also evident from the efforts put together by technology giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft. Google already has a powerful AI assistant in the form of Google Assistant, which is also present in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones. With Bixby, Samsung wants to offer its users with a new way to interact with the smartphone. Also Read - Galaxy S21 FE to support 25W charging but will Samsung put it in the box?
Bixby was made by Viv labs, which Samsung acquired later. The team behind Bixby are also the ones who created Siri, which was later acquired by Apple. But with Google Assistant onboard, do you really need Bixby? Is there anything different, and better that Bixby offers that Google Assistant doesn t? Let s take a look.
To begin with, Samsung hasn t rolled out Bixby with its full-fledged functionality. When Samsung demonstrated Bixby, it looked exactly like competing AI assistants. In essence, you can ask Bixby about the weather, ask to make calls to your contacts, turn Wi-Fi / Bluetooth on or off, ask to click a selfie and more. Sadly, the voice functionality isn t available at the moment, but an update for the same will be rolled out in the coming months. ALSO READ: Samsung Bixby: If done well, it might leave people impressed yet again
How to access Bixby
There are two ways to access Bixby. On the home screen, you can swipe from left to right to bring up Bixby, or press the dedicated Bixby button on the left panel, just below the volume rocker. Samsung is also working on voice support, which will let you summon the voice assistant by simply saying something like Hello Bixby. But until that happens, you ll have to rely on swipe gesture or the physical button. ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy S8+ Review: It s glorious, but with some caveats
Bixby Interface and supported apps
In a way, Bixby has a look and feel similar to Google Now. It pulls up information from supported apps and presents it in the form of cards. The interface feels refreshing and appealing though, with each information card having different accent colors. At launch, native apps such as internet, gallery, music, S-health, reminders, weather, and third-party apps such as Twitter, Foursquare and Uber among others are supported.
From S Health, you get information such as number of steps taken, calories burned, Heart Rate and more. Bixby also pulls top news and stories from Flipboard, with categories such as entertainment, travel, technology, food, science and much more. You can then tap on a particular news or category to read it. Bixby also pulls details from your calendar and reminders, making it the hub for all information. But as Google Now has evolved over the years, it is more reliable, functional and informative for now.
One of the things I found interesting about Bixby is the Vision feature. It uses the camera along with machine learning to identify objects, landmarks or translate foreign languages. I clicked a photo of an office chair to see what results Bixby offers, and sure, it recognized the object and offered relevant information. Powered by Pinterest, the result included different types to chairs and details. Samsung is also working to include results from e-commerce platforms, which will let you visit the product page and make the purchase right away.
I also clicked photos of my shoes and the office landline, and Bixby offered relevant information. But when I clicked a photo of a cold drink (Mountain Dew) bottle, the results weren t accurate, showing wine bottles, flower bottles and more. ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy S8 camera review: A closer look at the front and rear camera on the newest flagship out there
Bixby Vision can also translate languages without needing a translator. Powered by Google Translate, it eliminates the need to install an app just to be able to translate text. I tried the feature by clicking photos of text from a book. You can choose the area, extract text and translate in one of the available languages. I tried translating the text from English to Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu, and the results did not disappoint.
Bixby Vision can also read barcodes and point you to the website. What s more, you can also click photos of popular tourist attractions, such as Charminar, Gateway of India, Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower, among others, and Bixby will offer relevant information about them. However, location services need to be turned on, as the details offered are from combination of object recognition and location awareness.
Samsung has clearly worked hard, and it really wants you to use Bixby on the new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones. It is still early to give a verdict, especially with no support for voice commands yet. However, integration of features such as translation and object recognition look promising. Bixby is far from finished, but we will surely keep an eye on the upcoming developments. Based on how Samsung is presenting Bixby, if done right, it has potential to turn out to be an impressive product after all.
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