back to article Samsung's Bixby assistant fails English, gets held back a month

Samsung has confirmed that it will be delaying the release of its Bixby voice assistant in the US, after the software showed problems with processing English-language requests. The Korean consumer electronics giant on Thursday confirmed that Bixby's voice features will not be going live until around the end of June while it …

  1. Deckmunki

    Bugger :( I quite fancy the SGS8. I've always been an Apple user, switched to a Oneplus 3 - which I like - but it has some very annoying issues such as the microphone stopping working around 5 seconds after switching to hands-free during calls.

    I was going to try the SGS8 as a last-ditch attempt to avoid going back to Apple.

    I can live without Bixby, but between this news and the fact this thing is more fragile than my emotions the morning after a heavy night of drinking Buckfast, I don't know if this phone is going to turn out to be just another shiny-pretty Android device whose annoyances outweigh its pros long-term.

    :(

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      @Deckmunki

      I have just purchased a Galaxy S7 because the S8 is still an outrageous price where I live.

      I have had a few Samsung phones, and the hardware is pretty good, nice screens and cameras etc, but the Samsung shortcoming is always the software.

      The quality varies wildly, from S Notes which in my view works really well, to S Voice which is almost entirely useless.

      I'm picking that stuff like Bixby is hard to do well, and Samsung will make a hash of it to start with, but wind up with something more or less usable in a few years.

      My advice: Get a Galaxy S10 if you want to use Bixby.

    2. JustNiz

      "I can live without Bixby"

      Thats funny. I'm not buying an S8 because it doesn't have the option to uninstall Bixby.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Thats funny. I'm not buying an S8 because it doesn't have the option to uninstall Bixby.

        Sadly it seems likely that Bixby will also be present in Note 8 (no, not the tablet..). I wish I could just get a refurbed Note 7, but those are unlikely to make it to UK (if they even ever become available).

        Unlesss it can be turned off, S8/Note8 get no sale from me. In fact, Samsung is really doing me a favour forcing my hand to look for alternatives which, for more than sufficient specs, are considerably cheaper.

        They really started going downhill since Note 4.

        1. NBCanuck

          Still have my Note 4 and it is still my favourite phone to date. Replaced the battery and it got it's second life. I love the idea of having the dust and water protection, but hate the thought of moving to a phone where I cannot swap the battery. Always wondered who benefited more from the sealed case:

          Consumer - whose phone will survive accidents involving water or

          Manufacturers - who know that people will become less satisfied and buy a new one when it fails to hold a good charge (because they don't know that they can still be done if you find the right person/company).

      2. #1Emperor

        Do you need more space?

        Why wouldn't you just not set Bixby up so you don't use it?

        Or did you write that just to see your words on the screen?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Phone is great except for 2 massive failings:

      1) every customisation Samsung has made to the base OS, with bixby being particularly useless. They just don't get it.

      2) fragile doesn't even begin to explain how pathetically weak it is. If you need a phone that can survive a fall from a bedside table onto carpet without cracking the rear glass, then the S8 is not for you.

    4. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Wait for the OnePlus 5, its shaping up to be quite fancy, and they are fixing a lot of the issues.

      or go for the S7 its still a couple of generations ahead of the iPhone and has 2x2 wifi

      Or there are plenty other options, Pixel, Experia XZ, Moto Z, HTC 10, LG G6 or even the Nokia 9.

      ATM My S7 is probably going to become the OnePlus or the Nokia

      1. robin thakur 1

        Err

        "or go for the S7 its still a couple of generations ahead of the iPhone"

        In what reality do you live? I dumped the S7 edge and got an iPhone 7 Plus and the device is way faster in all games which are cross platform and my day to day usage, not to mention to fit, finish and polish. With the Apple Pay, Air pods and Apple Watch forming a full ecosystem, my experience is way better than it was with the s7. The stupid (STUPID!!), pretty but pointless edge screen detecting my palm made me thankful for bezels (sorry Samsung) and the Google Voice dictate button on the keyboard kept switching off. As usual, Samsung's software screwed it up royally, which is why I could have told Samsung and everyone here 6 months ago that Bixby would be a pile of shite, regardless of how many hundreds or thousands of people they have working on it.

        How many people do you think Google has working on Assistant and do you think, Samsung, that they'll be the same caliber as the ones you've employed? Giving it a dedicated button does not prevent it from being the Air-scrolling of the SGS4 of this generation, used once and then forgotten, soon to be removed on the S10. Samsung's strategy is overpromise in flashy marketing and underdeliver, and hope that nobody notices unless the phone explodes. All people want is Samsung's hardware with stock Android, and things like the Samsung's Camera App, which they can install and build quality which doesn't cause the phone to explode or shatter. Which is all they've ever wanted...Samsung Pay and Bixby are both good examples of solutions to problems that nobody asked for and nobody uses. The only thing the S7 had going for it was the charging speed, which was way better than the iPhone, in all other respects, it can't hold a candle to it.

        1. #1Emperor

          Re: Err

          I've got a samsung S6 edge an iphone7 and a samsung S8+.

          My opinion is that both of the 2 Samsungs i have shit all over the iphone.

          Never had a problem with the edge screen except when replacing it due to high price. Bixby is a novelty that you don't have to use. So complaining about it is just childish whinging. I find it usefull. Nowhere near as advanced as Siri though. Got to start somewhere though.

  2. mr0c
    Coat

    me fail english?

    that's unpossible

  3. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Who cares, I'd be utterly gobsmacked if anyone bought the S8 on the strength of Bixby anyway. I didn't. I just know when they do finally release it there's going to be some nagging to turn it on before I hopefully am able to silence it. If I can't silence it then I'm going to think again before I buy another Samsung.

    1. Sampler

      Because of, doubt it, in-spite of? Most users..

  4. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

    Bixby is a tinny name. I prefer a woody name, such as Hurk. Incredibear.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Bixby is a tinny name. I prefer a woody name, such as Hurk. Incredibear.

      What was wrong with caribou?

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        I should have included this in my post above...

        Apart from anything else caribou have a command of English already: see

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5035TY5RSpg

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What was wrong with caribou?

        How about shite?

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Reinventing it all

    I'm not sure why every phone maker wants to struggle with inventing their own Android UI elements, their own dialer, their own messenger, their own launcher, and their own voice assistant. These little maintenance nightmares have extremely rapidly changing features and everybody wants it customized differently. License them from somebody else and get back to the core business of hardware.

    A good chunk of any phone maker's message boards are filled with comments like, "Please stop trying to fix this train wreck and just help the open source developers with the drivers."

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Reinventing it all

      Because they need to differentiate themselves from the rest. If all Android phones ran generic Android with the same software features, people would base their choices on price and hardware specs, and the Chinese companies would have 100% Android market share.

      The reason they want their own messenger, voice assistant etc. is obvious. Google is making all the money from Android, the OEMs want a share of that post-sale revenue.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Reinventing it all

        Because [the phone makers] need to differentiate themselves from the rest. If all Android phones ran generic Android with the same software features, people would base their choices on price and hardware specs, and the Chinese companies would have 100% Android market share.

        Just about 100% of all phones are made in China anyway, whatever the name on the box.

        Moto (Lenovo) choose to apply minimal customization, that option is available, while other manufacturers add their own customization (and still get significant market share, so someone must like -- or at least not vehemently dislike -- what they're doing). In some cases the OEM changes are related to specific hardware (Samsung's S-Pen, for example) and couldn't feasibly be removed without impacting on functionality; in others it's just an OEM-specific theme, and one really wishes that it could be removed.

        There are two parts to the problem, though. One is the OEM-flavoured skinning of the OS itself, which is undesirable because it means that updates will be provided more slowly -- if at all -- than 'vanilla' Android devices. That's a problem that really needs to be solved.

        The other part of the problem is the provision of OEM-specific applications (such as Bixby). These applications are typically provided for the OEM's benefit -- to skim the user's data, to display advertising, or to provide vendor lock-in by storing the user's data in proprietary formats. It's understandable that the OEM doesn't want to make these apps removable, and equally understandable that the savvy user's response is to root the device.

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Seriously

        who's ever bought a Samsung for the software?

  6. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Viv (renamed 'Bixby) Speaks English, so what's the real problem?

    This sounds like shenanigans to me. What did ScamScum really screw up this time?

    "Samsung buys Viv Labs in pursuit of its own AI assistant

    The startup founders also created Siri before Apple was even in the picture."

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/10/samsung-buys-viv-labs-in-pursuit-of-its-own-ai-assistant/

    'Samsung is turning its attention to personal assistants—the company has acquired Viv Labs, a startup founded by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer, and Chris Brigham, all of whom were part of the original Siri team that Apple bought in 2010. The three departed Apple shortly after the acquisition to start Viv Labs...'

    http://viv.ai

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Viv (renamed 'Bixby) Speaks English, so what's the real problem?

      Put someone from Newcastle, the Black Country, Glasgow and Cornwall in the same room and you'll very quickly see why it would fail....as would 99% of English speakers

      1. PNGuinn
        Headmaster

        Problems parsing English.

        Hey, Sammy

        Back here in Blighty we've got a General Election for you to play with - Get yourselves a set of speeches and teach the bugger to parse that lot.

        And do try to get it done well before polling day.

        WARNING

        I'm assuming that you are aware that the Septics speak a TOTALLY different language on the other side of the pond - But you're Samclung, so you probably don't.

        So for them you'll have to do the tests using The Donald's tweets.

        No trouble - my consultancy bill for £5 is in the post.

  7. Packet

    Rather unfortunately named assistant

    Every time I read the name, I'm reminded of Begbie from Trainspotting.

    Come to think of that, imagine such a psychotic assistant...just the cussing alone would be worth the price of entry

    1. MrDamage

      Re: Rather unfortunately named assistant

      I'm reminded of Bill Bixby, the guy who originally played Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk TV series.

      Sort of fitting how it will probably grow/bloat beyond reasonable expectations, leading owners to do a "Hulk Smash" when the thing fucks up one time too many.

      1. Ian 7

        Re: Rather unfortunately named assistant

        It was David Banner who Bixby played, not Bruce. Although apparently on his gravestone (ooops, spoiler alert) it became "David Bruce Banner". Theories abound as to why... https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/91702/why-was-bruce-banner-named-david-banner-in-the-old-tv-show

  8. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Typical Samsung...

    They spend so much time and effort trying to copy and rush to beat Apple that they spoil everything they do by releasing way too early out or just lathering it in crap. Bixby is just another example. If Samsung could've spend another 6 months developing this phone, it would've been amazing. But no: stupid fingerprint scanner positioning (screen not ready), non functioning poor man's Siri (software not ready), pointless Android bloat. They never seem to learn.

    Apple is taking its time for the iPhone 8. It'll be more conservative than some of us might like, but it will actually work.

  9. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Meh

    Is it just me?

    I don't really want one of these voice assistant things, and not being able to remove/disable it would be enough to stop me buying a device. I'm guessing one could at the very least turn it off.

    It feels like the new Clippy.

  10. Chris 125

    Not too long ago, you could buy a Galaxy phone (an S4 perhaps? Maybe an S5?) as a Google Play Edition. It had pure Android, with Google Mobile apps and nothing else.

    That was the last great idea Samsung had. Yes, the hardware is much better now, but until there's a reliable install of something based around AOSP I can't bring myself to use them.

    The same went for HTC - you could buy a M7 as a GPE, although as Samsung Touchwiz has got uglier at least HTC have had the sense to ease back on customisations in Sense.

    Bixby offers nothing that Google Assistant doesn't already do so all it's really proving is that Samsung are slower than Google to develop voice AI.

  11. Lucky2BHere

    And that's not all...

    Facial recognition spoof, infrared spoof, Bixby MIA...

    These pale, though, if the stories brewing right now are substantiated. Seems the infrared is not safe for continued use. Their own disclaimers when setting up - the very young cannot use, extended use could have dangerous effects - have apparently led to some additional digging, and it doesn't look like something one would want to get near their eyes, at all! Forget the minor security issues and the occasional, though festive, burst of heat and light, this is a very real problem.

    Maybe they can't catch a break because they are not taking the time time - again - to make sure their product *actually* delivers (more than some marshmallow-searing BTUs). For all their resources, it seems to me their executives continue to conduct business with their heads in dark and dank places.

  12. TH3ORY
    FAIL

    it called a case purchase one spigen amour! eve dropped my s8+ plenty of times on the road at home office not a scratch or crack in sight :)

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