It’s time to start talking to your phone (even more).
A full three months after the Galaxy S8 and S8+ launched in the U.S., its voice-powered assistant Bixby Voice is available for everyone to use. An OTA update with the necessary new software is heading out to every U.S. Galaxy S8 and S8+ starting today, July 19, and once it arrives on your phone you’ll have the same voice control features that many people have been testing the past few weeks as part of a limited beta program.
Bixby Voice is genuinely useful for many functions on your phone, but much of the luster of the feature has worn off as development delays meant it wasn’t ready to launch with the phones themselves back in April. With many of those kinks worked out now to the point of being ready for a consumer launch, Samsung will have to really start its campaign of advertising Bixby Voice as a selling point of the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
The cold truth is the entire Bixby ecosystem just hasn’t taken off with consumers.
Of course the goal of Bixby Voice is to be just one part of a larger set of Bixby features, which up to this point also haven’t really caught on. The Bixby Home interface, often opined as a poor man’s version of Google Now, feels weak and rarely useful. And Bixby Vision doesn’t have the data set or algorithms to be a truly useful part of the camera experience. From what we’ve seen of Bixby Voice, however, there’s at least something there that’s properly unique — it’s meant to help you control things on your phone, not just head out to the internet and answer questions for you. It’s a proper differentiator from the way Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri work.
If you’re one of the many in the U.S. who have a Galaxy S8 or S8+ and are curious about this whole Bixby experience, it really is worth checking out Bixby Voice once the latest software hits your phone. It could be enough to make you appreciate Samsung’s hard work on the features, and even think that that hardware Bixby button under your volume rocker was worth it after all.