Samsung has touted Bixby, its rival to Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant, as a major new feature on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but the voice assistant won’t recognise British accents when the phones launch in the UK.
That means Bixby won’t be voice activated in the UK, at least at first. Samsung hasn’t specified when this might change, and product spokespeople didn’t seem to know at the S8 launch event in London on Wednesday.
IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo was given a “controlled demo” of Bixby on Tuesday. According to Samsung, he said, British English would be “available later this year,” but could only recognise American English and Korean for now. “All those details aren’t clear, and whether you can activate Bixby by calling it isn’t totally clear,” he said.
A Samsung spokeswoman said: “All Bixby functionality, bar the Voice Function, will be available to UK customers at launch.
“This includes Bixby Vision which allows users to identify objects the camera is pointing at, and Bixby Home. Its Voice function will be available in Korean at launch and U.S English from May, and will expand to more languages globally over time.”
Demo phones at Wednesday’s launch event came with a localised version of Bixby, which you could activate through a dedicated button on the left hand side of the device.
Pressing the button brought up “cards,” similar to Google Now, showing information like weather or your steps.
Bixby is also integrated into the camera to create a visual search engine — point the camera at an object and Bixby will, in theory, identify it and bring up shopping links. Jeronimo cited another featured, where a user could ask Bixby to display photos taken in London, then sort them into a dedicated album.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will launch on April 28 in the UK for £679 and £789 respectively.
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