Even when Bixby Voice eventually arrives, there’s no reason to keep the annoying, user-hostile hardware button.
This week there was at least some good news around Bixby, Samsung’s maligned AI thing from the Galaxy S8. Two months after launch, Samsung announced that Bixby Voice would finally be arriving… in the form of a beta program, in one country, the United States.
On one hand, the glacial pace of Bixby’s development is understandable. It’s far more complex in scope than most traditional voice assistants — in supported apps, Bixby needs to be able to support any function you could otherwise access via touch, and navigate the labyrinthine mess of verbal communication to get there.
Still, we’re months into the (very finite) lifespan of this phone, and outside of Korea, Bixby Voice only exists in beta form for U.S. English. That’s not great.
We could be well into 2018 before many non-English languages get Bixby Voice.
Other flavors of the English language will have to wait even longer, to say nothing of other tongues with large addressable audiences, like German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Earlier in the year, the ETA for German was Q4 2017. The Samsung support page stating that timeframe now 404’s, and in light of other delays I wouldn’t be surprised if we were well into 2018 before Bixby Voice had any real non-English Western language support.
In some territories where the local language isn’t a big priority for Samsung, a Galaxy S8 owner might go most or all of its supported lifespan with the Bixby button just opening Hello Bixby. If I were a GS8 owner in somewhere like the Netherlands, Romania or Japan… well, I wouldn’t be holding my breath.
And even then that’s for the initial rollout of Bixby Voice features in a handful of Samsung applications. Support in other third-party apps will take even longer to build out.
It’s not a good look considering how central Bixby — and Bixby Voice in particular — was to Samsung’s messaging around the GS8 launch back in March. Now, this delay wouldn’t be such a big deal were Bixby not permanently, unchangeably mapped to a physical hardware button on the phone’s left border. (A button which The Verge’s Dieter Bohn correctly calls a monument to the company’s inability to ship a feature on time.)
You might think the Bixby button would be easy enough to ignore. That’s what I and others on the AC team have tried to do over the past couple of months. But through a combination of its placement, precariously close to the volume rocker, and the fact that it automatically overrides all other input, it’s become a perpetual annoyance.
The most irksome scenario is something Daniel Bader and I have experienced over and over again. When you double-tap the power key to launch the camera, there’s a non-zero chance that you’ll brush the Bixby button at the same time. Maybe not every time, but a statistically significant number. And – Source