The Galaxy S30 and other new Samsung phones may see the Bixby assistant and the Galaxy App Store change significantly, or perhaps even removed entirely.
That's because Bloomberg reports that Samsung and Google are currently working on a deal that would give Google greater control over search features on Samsung's phones, as well as having its own apps appear more prominently according to "a person briefed on the matter".
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Samsung currently prioritizes its own Bixby digital assistant over the Google Assistant, and offers its own Galaxy Store for app downloads alongside the Google Play Store. This deal would likely mean that Samsung's homegrown options would take a back seat to Google's offerings. It may even mean that Samsung might redesign or scrap its own apps as a result.
In a way this is good news, since Samsung phones are notorious for clogging up users' storage space with apps they didn't ask for. In addition, Bixby has an unfortunate reputation for being an ineffective nuisance compared to other digital assistants.
However, it does mean Samsung is sacrificing autonomy by doing this. We may see fewer unique features as part of its One UI operating system as it becomes closer to the stock Android 10 experience, making Samsung phones less unique compared to rival offerings from the likes of OnePlus or Google itself.
Samsung and Google respond
In statements to Bloomberg, Google and Samsung both intoned that Samsung would retain its independence, but that working with Google was very important for offering users the best experience.
Google's statement reads: “Like all Android device makers, Samsung is free to create its own app store and digital assistant… While we regularly talk with partners about ways to improve the user experience, we have no plans to change that.”
Meanwhile Samsung's response left the door open to making sweeping changes: “Samsung remains committed to our own ecosystem and services. “At the same time, Samsung closely works with Google and other partners to offer the best mobile experiences for our users.”
As Bloomberg points out, this deal could provide Samsung with a large sum of money, based on similar deals Google makes with Apple to be the default search engine for its Safari browser. Since Samsung, like many device makers, is seeing a drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, the extra cash could be the driving force.
Samsung's next big product launch comes on August 5, at the Galaxy Unpacked event where the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Z Fold 2 phones will likely both be introduced. As this deal is still under negotiation, don't expect to see any big changes to the Samsung user experience arrive with these phones. We're more likely to see the results of the deal appear on the Galaxy S30 next February instead.