Big data is a big deal.
The full launch of the English version of Samsung’s Bixby voice control interface for the Galaxy S8 is still in a holding pattern, after originally expecting to launch in June. The delay comes from a handful of issues with the service but is driven by a lack of usage data that’s ultimately required for the machine learning systems to work at their full potential. Although the service is already available in Samsung’s home country of South Korea, evolving Bixby for use with U.S. English is proving tougher.
Because of the vast number of potential commands and numerous pathways to accomplish those commands within the interface and apps on a phone, the only realistic way to make it all work is for machine learning algorithms to process large amounts of data and determine those links automatically. Samsung’s engineers can of course set them on the right path, but in the end, you need real-world usage data to show the algorithms how people are using the service and how to best accomplish the commands.
Working with big data is tough enough — and that’s after you gather it all.
With Bixby Voice actually coming to the U.S. late last month in an opt-in beta, presumably Samsung will be able to accumulate the data it needs to get to the point of launching fully on every Galaxy S8 and S8+. From there, the extra data gained from millions of users will help improve the service over time. But because Samsung doesn’t initially have the wealth of voice data that a company like Google does, it’s slow going at the start.
The question is, how long will people wait? Samsung isn’t yet offering a new timeline for a public launch of the service. With Bixby Voice being one of the headline features talked about with the launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in April, it’s already a tad disappointing for people to not have access to it. Presumably Bixby Voice will be fully up and running by the launch of the Galaxy Note 8 later this year.
Then the discussion begins as to where Samsung will launch Bixby Voice next — with other massive markets like Europe and India needing attention, the U.S. is simply a stop on the road, not the finish line.