Galaxy S8's Killer Feature Just Got Delayed (Again)

Wondering why Bixby's voice controls haven't landed on your Galaxy S8 yet? Better ask Google Assistant, because it sounds like it's going to be some time before Samsung's built-in digital assistant finds its voice.

Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide)

That's the word from the Wall Street Journal, which reports that Bixby Voice, the heavily touted voice-powered control features slated for the Galaxy S8, won't be ready until late June at the earliest.

The problem seems to be lost in the translation. The Journal reports that Bixby "is struggling to comprehend English syntax and grammar." The Bixby Voice features have already been introduced to S8 phones in Samsung's home market of South Korea, according to Korean media reports.

MORE: Samsung Galaxy S8 User Guide - Tips, Tricks and Hacks

Bixby Voice was one of the marquee features slated for the Galaxy S8, which launched in the U.S. in April. With Bixby Voice, you'd be able to use voice commands to control phone functions like dimming the device's display or turning on airplane mode. In other words, Bixby Voice would come in handy for those times when it makes more sense to speak than type or tap a command.

Prior to the S8's launch, Samsung said its new flagship phone would arrive without Bixby voice controls enabled, but that an update containing that capability would roll out to phones later in the spring. Technically speaking, it's going to be spring for a few more weeks, but the Journal report claims that Samsung's internal target was to have the U.S. update ready by the end of May. And from the one of the Journal's report, it doesn't sound like Bixby Voice is going to be ready by the time the summer solstice rolls around.

Bixby's not totally powerless at this point. The assistant offers a Bixby Vision feature that taps into the S8's camera to recognize and identify objects. It's a handy feature for checking prices on Amazon, say, though our testing found Bixby Vision to be a little hit and miss at this stage. Bixy can also set reminders and provide an at-a-glance look at your schedule.

On the one hand, it's good that Samsung is taking it's time to get a pretty important feature right. Releasing a half-ready version of Bixby Voice isn't going to convince people to integrate the assistant into their daily routine. That said, in a sense, the clock is ticking on Bixby. Google has announced plans to improve its own assistant with image recognition capabilities, which could give Google Assistant an edge over Bixby long before Samsung's voice-powered assistant even makes it out of the starting gate.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

  • SF95070
    Please feel free to obsess on the lack of Bixby if it pleases you. As a recent buyer of an S8 Plus, I really don't care much if Bixby ever works. One of the joys of not living in the fenced world of Apple is that I have all the capabilities I need with Google search, Google Goggles and other third party packages I could use if I didn't like those. Jeannie, which is now being spelled Genie has been around for years and does everything Siri does. There are a lot of things starting with the screen and the feel of the S8 that made me want one, but I always expected to turn Bixby off. If it eventually arrives and is wonderful I will use it, but I certainly am not checking every hour for a release date.
  • Nei1
    I'm supposed to be able to talk to my chromebook. I found the setting, and made sure it's turned off.

    This smells of bulloney: "On the one hand, it's good that Samsung is taking it's time to get a pretty important feature right. Releasing a half-ready version of Bixby Voice isn't going to convince people to integrate the assistant into their daily routine."

    The message is that Samsung is careful not to release a product before development is complete, but the assertion is absurd. The whole article is about Samsung having released their phone before its software was finished. The contradiction wouldn't have been discreetly inserted into the article if Tom weren't consumed with desire to brown-nose companies' marketing departments. Recommend putting the consumer first, and let the companies' chips fall where they may, instead of being an apologist for them.