back to article Clap, damn you, clap! Samsung's Bixby 2.0 AI reveal is met with apathy

When Samsung's veep of artificial intelligence strategy, the enigmatic Ji Soo Yi, demonstrated Bixby 2.0 at the chaebol's Galaxy event yesterday, he had to prompt the audience for applause. "You can clap," he urged the attendees after stunned silence met another new feature. This earned instant derision on Twitter, but let's …

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FAIL

If I bought a new Samsung I'd stick lineageOS on it just to get rid of Bixby (and the spyware from google). Neither want or need it and it isn't a failure of imagination on my part, it's just I don't want to be the victim of shovelware.

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One huge problem for the majority of people is that installing LineageOS will replace your great quality phone camera (assuming one of the recent flagships) with a very average quality camera.

You'll also be losing pretty much any stylus support if you get it, so you'd be throwing your money down the drain if you did it with the Note range.

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Hmm had assumed that the camera software would have been part of the build for that specific phone. Might have to settle for plugging as many privacy holes as I can if that's the case.

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"installing LineageOS will replace your great quality phone camera (assuming one of the recent flagships) with a very average quality camera."

That only matters if you care. I'm willing to bet that a majority of people don't.

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@Argh

I've been off Samsung stock ROMs for years so I can't really remember the Samsung camera app but the one with Lineage is pretty good and there others out there. I guess your point is that there features in the BLOBs that you might lose but the only feature I think that is really missing on my S5 is the FM radio.

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@James have you decided which one you're going to get? ,-)

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> If I bought a new Samsung

Well, the solution is actually a lot simpler: don't buy a Samsung. There are Android phones out there that are better.

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OpenCamera

OpenCamera pretty much rocks. You still lose advanced features if you have a really fancy phone though. What's a "stylus support?" ;)

--running Lineage + MicroG for several months now.

Summary in a nutshell: Here Wego > Google Maps, but I miss my cloud storage for saves in AlphaBear.

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J27

It's easier just to not buy a Samsung Phone. They're overpriced anyway.

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If I could natively remap the Bixby hardware button to Flashlight, that would be lovely. As it is, I've taken a scalpel to my phone case, slicing off the bump above the Bixby button to make the volume bumps easier to locate by touch.

Still, it isn't necessary to install Lineage OS to get rid of Bixby.

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Who the hell would want an easily accidentally activated external button to control the flashlight? If you need one so often you want a hardware button on the outside of the phone to turn it on, maybe you should carry an actual flashlight with you...

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Honestly, yes, I do want the torch on a button. I use it pretty often because I always have my phone with me, and it's charged.

I'm sure that other people would rather have something else.

It seems really likely that fewer than 1% of users want that button to be dedicated to a voice assistant.

And that fewer than 10% would agree on what the button should do. So make it configurable.

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You can buy a hardware button made for the audio socket. Too easy.

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The latest industry

is inventing stuff that nobody ever asked for and nobody wants.

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Re: The latest industry

A bit like 3D TVs: annoying, poorly executed, “niche” at best but pushed incredibly aggressively by manufacturers and movie studios. At a premium, of course.

Those went well, dind’t they?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The latest industry

You mean that shitty concave TV screens that only give an "improved" picture if you're a single viewer sitting in *precisely* the right position relative to the screen and don't move about, look inferior to anyone sitting elsewhere and have huge problems with reflections *weren't* driven by customer demand?

I'm shocked, *shocked*!

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Re: The latest industry

"A bit like 3D TVs: annoying, poorly executed,"

Anyone who has made a serious study of 3d vision can tell you - it is not technically possible to achieve 3d reproduction without individual headsets, so multi-user 3d TV or cinema is guaranteed to be poorly executed.

Basically, for any two-image attempt to stereo reproduction there is only one eye position that works, that which corresponds to the exact position of the taking lenses.

As this has been known since early Victorian times, 3d TVs were basically a scam from day one.

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Re: The latest industry

“The latest industry is inventing stuff that nobody ever asked for and nobody wants.”

Well after thousands of years of study by Zen monks, they have demonstrated answer to the question “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

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Re: The latest industry - “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

That's easy - the sound of the master's hand slapping the novice on the head and him saying "Don't try to be clever with meaningless questions, stupid boy."

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Re: The latest industry - “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Nah, it's the sound of your left hand impacting your bare right shoulder whilst your right hand is holding a glass of wiine and someone's just done or said something worthy of applause, and there isn't anywhere you can put your drink down on handily.

What? You mean you don't all wear little off the shoulder numbers? !

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Is received wisdom like perceived wisdom?

Enquiring minds need to know!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is received wisdom like perceived wisdom?

In order of factuality, least to most:

Whoever writes Femail Fashion Finder, The rest of the Daily Mail, Evening Standard, What Trump Tweets, RCL indiegogo updates, Guardian, Any politician, All other newspapers, Anything Millennials say, Anyone calling themselves an 'influencer', Anyone called Amy who spells it as Ami, Anyone with 'expert', 'cloud' or 'architect' in their job title, Anyone called Lisa, Anyone with a double-barrelled surname, Stephen Fry, What Trump Thinks, Received Wisdom, Twitter, Bloggers, Journalists, Perceived wisdom, Hunches, Guesses, Adam from Love Island, Drunken Philosophy, Facts, Facts on Wikipedia, Smiths lyrics, Wes from Love Island, Samira from Love Island, God, Anything in the first 30 Discworld Novels, Jack and Dani.

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Facepalm

"Because speaking a trivial command out loud is still too intrusive"

Researchers accustomed to working in libraries will never, ever use a voice assistant as their primary UI.

I am sure I am not the only one. For us, the keyboard will remain paramount, as it is faster than any other silent data entry (except maybe for Chinese, where hunt-and-peck character pickers can hold their own).

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Re: "Because speaking a trivial command out loud is still too intrusive"

A subvocal mic might work, or a glove you could use gestures with. Power and reliablity (plus training users to be able use them effectively) would be an issue.

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Re: "Because speaking a trivial command out loud is still too intrusive"

There's Chorded Typing - silent, and can be invisible too - can be done in one's pocket if needs be.

I've not learnt it, but apparently it doesn't take too long to do so.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Because speaking a trivial command out loud is still too intrusive"

"I was, err, just chord typing in my pocket officer."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Because speaking a trivial command out loud is still too intrusive"

"Is that a chord keypad in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?"

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Re: "Because speaking a trivial command out loud is still too intrusive"

Not to mention that voice is a terribly inefficient way to do that sort of thing. It's really only better than typing for trivial sorts of operations.

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Re: "Is that a chord keypad in your pocket"

May I commend to the commentard community, a word I only recently learned?

My brother had referred to a "sacofricotic colleague" and my subsequent enquiry taught me the definition of sacofricosis

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K
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Their personal assistant AIs will always be smarter than anyone else's...

Yet they're still as bright as a dull light bulb!

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DJV
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...that''s been disconnected from the mains...

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Flame

"Do not want" is not strong enough.

Identifying this as something I do not care about would be innacurate.

I really consider this something that not having would be far superior to having.

For comparison, some phones have an FM radio. Some people want and use it. I have had it on phones in the past bur other than trying it out I didn't use it. It's presence is not a sale point to me but I would not consider it a negative. I would consider Bixby as something that will weigh against my purchasing something.

Bixby is the latest example of what I have heard called "crudware". Software that does not do anything new, unexpected or even better than what is already available but can mess with it. The worst example I can think of is the Samsung calendar. I add an appointment on my phone and it does not show up in my Google Calendar so I am not reminded of it.

I think the first example I came across was the "hubs" on my GS2 long ago. For example, they gave me the opportunity to jumble up my Gmail, text messages, instant messages and so on. Instead of having reminders that I had 4 emails, an IM anf a text, it would just say I had 6 messages. That doesn't seem to be there any more. They just need to get rid of the other alternative functionality and I might consider Samsungs' excellent kit again.

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Windows

Re: "Do not want" is not strong enough.

You can always tell when a software feature is for the benefit of the vendor, not the user - it will be difficult-to-impossible to remove/disable it.

Bixby’s a prime example, but also: apple pay, cortana, apple Music, the windows Store, animated emoji crap on just about every modern platform, iOS/Windows updates... I’m sure you can think of others.

Yes, I’m aware that some of those can in theory be disabled, but they have a habit of popping back every so often (after every update in the case of Windows 10, and about every 10th time I try to play a local MP3 file in the case of Apple Music).

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Re: "Do not want" is not strong enough.

I use Apple Pay a lot but not Apple Music. It’s easy enough to disable and make go away?

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Re: "Do not want" is not strong enough.

Samsung has not been satisfied with making the best Android phones. They want to build the whole ecosystem and be just like Apple. Music store, App store, brwoser, calendarr, etc. I think they still are thinking about having their own OS as well. Yesterday‘s announcement also featured the new Galaxy watch which runs Tizen OS.

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Re: "Do not want" is not strong enough.

They just need to get rid of the other alternative functionality and I might consider Samsungs' excellent kit again.

The problem is that hardware makers live on very thin margins. They covet the high margins reported by software makers, and think they can get themselves a piece of that with with crappy, me-too software offerings. They then delude themselves with the idea that their latest flagship raked in a high price because of all the crudware they'd excreted on to it.

It's pretty clear that sometimes a software maker can specify decent hardware, but manufacture is invariably by OEMs. For the houses like Samsung, they need to wake up realise that their software adds no value, costs a lot to produce and maintain and go back to hardware innovation and manufacture.

I struggle to think of a hardware maker that does even competent software, and I likewise can't identify a software maker that can do manufacturing. Even when you get down to software that only hardware makers can create like drivers, or embedded code like SCADA, these really aren't areas where you expect to find quality, are they.

Software and hardware, 'ey be loik beast n'dairy. Yer can do beast, yer can do dairy, but beast n'dairy 'ey don't never mix.

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Re: "Do not want" is not strong enough.

"Samsung has not been satisfied with making the best Android phones. "

It's just as well because there is no such thing, it depends on your criteria. Which is after all why Android has its benefits - there are currently four types of iPhone, or rather two types with one having different sizes. There is perhaps too much choice in the Android world - but it exists. As with Apple - want a small high spec Samsung? Forget it. Samsung high res LCD? Ditto. Robust version? Apparently US only.

Perhaps trying to be like Apple explains why the likes of Huawei are snapping at their heels.

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Re: "Do not want" is not strong enough.

Huawei are snapping at their heels because the native brands are taking over China. Samsung used to have really good market share there, but they've been losing out to their Android rivals. Sure, sales of the S9 are down from previous Galaxy models, but it isn't like other Android OEMs have been selling more flagships to pick up the slack. There are just fewer higher priced Android phones getting sold because lower priced ones are a lot closer than they were a few years ago.

If you buy Android today, you get very little extra paying $1000 versus paying $300-$400. At least with Apple, the difference between the SE and the X is pretty obvious so they don't have to worry about cannibalizing their own high end too much - but more importantly as far as Apple is concerned, if you want an iPhone/iOS you have only one source so they don't have to worry about competition nearly as much as Samsung does.

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Re: "Do not want" is not strong enough.

I really consider this something that not having would be far superior to having.

The only thing I would really want would be a SDK with a flat learning curve so that I can compose my own ultra-simple mobile interface and leave out all the crud and weird asynchronous Google event shit.

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Re: Samsung has not been satisfied with making the best Android phones

I've no experience of Samsungs myself, having always stuck to Sony or, latterly, Motorola, but, every time I investigate apps on the Play store, seven out of ten of the people complaining that they do not work (or have been 'broken' by the latest update) invariably have Samsung phones (and I do mean invariably).

Everyone I know who has ever had a Samsung has subsequently sworn that they will never get another as long as they live because there is always something that doesn't work properly/doesn't play well with others - be it an app, a much desired feature of an app or whatever.

On that basis I have to question whether they do make the best phones: best engineering, best components, best individual features all count for nothing if the overall experience is poor; an operationally poor device is a bad device, irrespective of how it looks on paper - overengineered is not good.

So, as I may be in the market for a new phone soon, never having tried a Samsung before, what can owners tell me about the RL experience of using them, rather than what the specs say I ought to be excited by?

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Re: Samsung has not been satisfied with making the best Android phones

The reason for large numbers of complaints is really extremely large numbers of users.

If 0.1% of users have a problem and you sell 1,000,000 then thats 1,000 complaints.

If 10% of users have a problem but you only sell 50, that's just 5 complaints.

Also, most people only review an app in the iOS and Play stores when they have a problem.

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Re: Samsung has not been satisfied with making the best Android phones

Good point.

So, Samsung make the most popular phones - 70% of the market?

As I said,I've no idea about them myself so that's a genuine question - I'm not into the whole branding thing; I'm not more special because I drive a certain car, use a certain make of laptop or possess a certain brand of phone and just don't pay attention except when the time comes to purchase a decent one of any of them - and even then I'm interested in the models available, not the brands.

Gotta disagree with you about the App/Play Store thing though. I can't remember about the App Store (it's been so long since I've been there) but on the Play Store at least the annoying thing is all the high (5 star) ratings with no explanation for them that I have to wade through to find a recent negative one that will give me some insight into how well the app really performs. Maybe that's a function of the kind of app I use (I imagine I'd see a lot more complaints about games not working than about an SQLite database that doesn't allow sorting on multiple fields simultaneously) but it's true nevertheless - the only kind of complaint see more frequently than any other is from those whining that they have to pay in order to get full functionality.

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Re: Samsung has not been satisfied with making the best Android phones

I wouldn't buy another Samsung - their version of Android is aweful.

Just picked up a Pixel 2 XL which has the same specs as the Galaxy s8+ I had, and it's like night and day - the samsung constantly lags and has lots of stutter, the pixel, restored from the same backup, is as smooth as butter.

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I already hate smartphones, this Bixby isn't going to make it better

I long for the day where I can ditch the nuisance that is a smartphone and go back to a simple feature phone.

Having a phone that will actively be able to nag not only on screen but also in my ear is absolutely not what I'm interested in. Keep your nannying away from me, I'm man enough to assume my mistakes.

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Re: I already hate smartphones, this Bixby isn't going to make it better

Nokia 8110 is your friend.

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Re: I already hate smartphones, this Bixby isn't going to make it better

Feature phones never went away. They just aren’t featured at the your local shop. I hear Nokia is making them again.

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Re: I already hate smartphones, this Bixby isn't going to make it better

Just buy a feature phone and stop calling your grandchildren for help with getting your emails to work.

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@ matjaggard

So you think anyone that hates smartphones has to be an old doddard ?

My retirement is still 13 years away. I have no grandchildren yet, and my entire family calls on me whenever they have a computer issue because I've been an IT professional for the past 30 years.

I know feature phones exist (for Philippe and td97402), but when you are a consultant, they are not enough, unfortunately. So I have to have a damn smartphone, and I hate that.

But I'm glad I gave you an opportunity to spew your contempt for old people. Feeling better ?

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Re: @ matjaggard

"But I'm glad I gave you an opportunity to spew your contempt for old people. Feeling better ?"

To be fair it's old people like me that are responsible for the current mess.

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Re: @ matjaggard

To be fair it's old people like me that are responsible for the current mess.

Are you taking a share of that responsibility, or referring to other old people?

It's just that I'm thinking that those who make a mess should clear it up as a form of restorative justice.

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