Despite a rough global launch for the Samsung Galaxy S8 Bixby voice assistant feature, the leading Android handset maker intends to push ahead with a standalone speaker to compete in the newly crowded home assistant space.
Following in the footsteps of the Amazon Echo, the category is packed with choices, including Google Home, Apple HomePod, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Samsung’s entry, codenamed “Vega,” is reportedly a standalone version of their proprietary voice assistant Bixby, which currently lacks full support for most languages outside of Samsung’s native Korean. Users who speak that language are able to enjoy a relatively competitive voice assistant with most of the features of the top competition, but English speakers will have to wait until the second half of July.
This has been an especially curious development for American Galaxy S8 users, given the device features a dedicated Bixby hardware button on the left side. And while the feature finishes cooking in Seoul, the hardware button cannot be set for an alternative function. The software also blocks the ability to use Google Assistant with the screen off, handicapping the most useful alternative for current S8 owners.
Feedback from Korean users is positive, however, so the standalone Samsung Bixby unit, Vega, could have a bright future ahead of it, as well as its software counterpart potentially making a number of S8 aficionados a little happier with their device.
Samsung acquired Viv, a voice recognition company, to help bring the international version of Bixby across the finish line.