Samsung hasn't given up on Bixby. No, the South Korean electronics giant has confirmed a major update to its voice assistant platform, introducing support for the DeX desktop computing mode while taking design cues from Apple's latest Siri refresh.
What has changed? Samsung didn't spare any spit and polish, with the also-ran voice assistant receiving a much-needed visual overhaul. In addition to new light and dark-mode themes, the design language now mirrors that of Samsung's One UI Android skin. In addition, Samsung claims to have overhauled its voice command suggestions algorithm to offer more personalised hints.
Sammy also took a leaf from the iOS 14 book. Just like Siri, Bixby will no longer occupy the whole screen when used. Instead, it is imprisoned in the lower third of the phone's display, along with a conversation indicator that moves with the user's speech.
Functionality-wise, the biggest change is support for the DeX desktop mode, allowing Bixby to be used while the phone is connected to an external monitor and keyboard.
Yes, we know DeX is a bit of a white elephant. It features exclusively on Samsung's most expensive phones, serving largely as a point of differentiation between other flagships. To date, the only smartphone vendor actively touting a desktop mode is Huawei – which, for obvious reasons, is increasingly a non-entity outside of Mainland China.
That said, this update does go some way to addressing the feature disparity between the standard Galaxy phone experience, and that when used as a standard PC.
Samsung introduced Bixby in early 2017, trailing Apple and Google by six and five years respectively. Its launch could have been smoother; at first, the sole language available was Korean. English – albeit the US flavour – followed later. It took a further two years to introduce British English, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Reception was tepid at best. Although Bixby came as the default assistant on post-launch Galaxy devices, it couldn't hold a candle to Google Assistant, prompting punters to immediately jump ship.
Samsung tried to turn back the tide in 2019, introducing a marketplace for third-party Bixby extensions, but it was arguably too late. ®