Here’s why Bixby needs to be great, and why you should hope it is too
Samsung has a history of going its own way when it comes to its tech. Phones are about the only devices that Samsung sticks to the Android script for – which is arguably one of its biggest use cases. Though one could argue that TouchWiz is still a pretty hefty skin in the grand scheme of things. But in the realm of mobile payments and smartwatch technology, Samsung has thumbed its nose at Google and built its own thing. And now, it is doing it again with Bixby.
Bixby is Samsung’s take on the smart assistant and is coming with the Samsung Galaxy S8. Samsung made a big announcement just the other day which covered why Bixby is going to be the better player. In some ways, it looks like it could compete. But we’ll get to that later. Right now, Samsung needs to consider its competitors in this space.
Meet the challengers
Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa are all in various stages of mass adoption – each with its own strength. Siri is on every iPhone, and in case you weren’t aware, there are a butt load of them out there. Cortana is on every Windows 10 PC and Windows 10 mobile device. Google Assistant is driving the world’s most popular mobile platform, but arguably only a small percentage of that platform. Alexa is on, or going to be on, pretty much everything else if CES was any indication.
Bixby on the other hand is debuting on Samsung’s new flagship phone, seemingly with a dedicated hardware button. If Samsung has its way, every Samsung connected device – and spoiler alert, there are a ton of them – will be using Samsung’s new personal assistant going forward. This could be a real advantage in the space – one which current personal assistants have largely ignored. Except Alexa, which is going to be on everything.
Not only that, but Bixby will have the capability of executing any command from any Bixby-enabled app or service. Befroe you get excited, yes, that means developers are going to have to get on board. Whether or not that will be a show stopper, time will tell. But Samsung is likely going to be pushing Bixby at most of the major apps in the Android space, rest assured. Samsung wants to get the world thinking about and with Bixby.
That doesn’t mean everything’s going to be wine and roses though – far from it. Samsung is going to have to contend with Google Assistant which is making its own push. Google Assistant is the only other major player in the space at the moment. HTC and LG are trying their hand at integrating some AI, but nothing on the scale that Google is, and Samsung is talking about doing. Google Assistant is of course the next evolution of Google voice search and Google Now. So, in that way it has been out there for years, building up a following among Android users.
Got the power?
So Samsung is going to have to unseat Google in order to make Bixby the success it wants it to be. That is not necessarily going to be easy, though, as we’ve said countless times before, if anyone can do it, it’s probably Samsung. Whether Google Assistant will be available in any way on board the Galaxy S8 at all remains to be seen. Personally, I’m inclined to think it won’t be, but time will tell. You can bet we’ll find out.
Personal assistants are invaluable to me, personally. I even compared four of them just recently to see who could do the best job. Might need to update that article in a couple of months, methinks. That being said, it’s fair to say that the world at large has not adopted personal assistants en masse. So there is room here. Samsung might be able to leverage its sheer scale into getting the Android population to adopt Bixby.
Better than better
But it needs to be great. “Good” will not cut it. In fact, “good” might even do more harm than good to the personal assistant space. If Bixby trips and falls out of the gate, and it’s shipping to the biggest smartphone audience on the planet, that doesn’t bode well for other assistants. Even if you’re a fan of one of the other players, you need to be rooting for Bixby to succeed. Just like the Apple Watch helped legitimize the smartwatch industry (an arguable point to be sure), so too could Bixby make – or break – the personal assistant industry. I’m rooting for Bixby to be great, even if I will override it with Google at the first opportunity.
Or maybe, I won’t.