With the Samsung Galaxy S21, it’s time for Bixby to keep it up or shut down


Today, Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, and Galaxy S21 Ultra (I’ll take the Zune inspired Brown one thanks). This is happening a few months earlier than normal for the phone’s S line, but otherwise the script will remain the same.

Here is the script. Samsung will be the first major Android manufacturer out of the gate with Qualcomm’s newest chips, this time with the Snapdragon 888. Samsung will use its infinitely excessive marketing budget and long carrier relationships to ensure that it will be seen as the default if you want. Premium Android Phone – Specially If you are making that purchase at an American carrier store.

Other parts of the script are not guaranteed, but are safe bets. They will probably be excellent phones, well balanced and capable. Samsung will make claims for larger cameras that will require rigorous testing to verify. And of course Samsung’s OneUI software’s ever-swinging pendulum will continue its current arc towards overloading.

In that last part of the script I have to think about one of the major recurring characters: Bixby. Samsung’s Digital Assistant launched in 2017 with the Galaxy S8. It was yet another digital assistant, but as Dan Seifert wrote at the time it was a very clear and very good remit that helped differentiate it from Alexa, Siri and Google. Samsung was not trying to turn Bixby into a general-purpose, know-it-and-do-everything accessory. this was it Focus:

Samsung knows that it cannot compete with Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others when it comes to the power of raw machine learning and puts a huge amount of information at your fingertips, so it is a simple task to solve Is using Bixby, one that is largely disregarded in those companies. Bixby is not going to try everything to be helpful. Instead, it will be the “bright sidekick” that complements those other services. This is a new user interface, not a new way of asking how tall the Eiffel Tower is.

Bixby was intended to be an interface rather than a helper. Was this really a viable strategy? Who knows! Certainly not Samsung, which very quickly has to do with what Samsung has done with the software: Feature creep. Over the years, Bixby has transformed into something that was originally designed No Being: A bad version of Google Assistant.

Samsung tried to push Bixby. This created a dedicated button for this. He later dropped that button but handed it to the long press of the power button. This created the Bixby routine (which was related to Bixby’s original intent). But then it linked Bixby to the chowm-feed of the content that was left-of-homescreen. And it announced independent smart Bixby speakers that were never actually shipped.

We have a joke on Vergcast that Bixby is a dog who wears shoes and is also a butler. It’s well worthwhile and eager to please, but eventually stumbles a lot and doesn’t do a great job serving drinks or answering the door because it’s a dog, wearing shoes.

Speaking of shoes, keep yourself in Samsung. Why is this Bixby development going on? I can think of only two reasons, one good and one bad.

Good reason: a defense against Google and Android. It’s always possible that Google might do something ominous and Samsung would like to bail out without Google’s services (or even Android itself). This is not a terrible idea for your digital assistant just in case. If nothing else, this may serve as a sign to Google that Samsung is, in fact, only willing to walk away and Tizen and Bixby do some negotiations.

That’s a good reason – or at least as a good reason I can come up with – but I don’t know if it’s the real reason. I suspect that the real reason is similar to another bad reason: Samsung is still, After all these years and after all its successes, Apple is trying to be.

Apple has shorthand for being an end-to-end ecosystem where your users live and breathe your services and thus get locked into your products. If you’re going for a holistic, all-encompassing ecosystem, you need to cover all the bases, and so on: Iixby.

And also: your own fitness service. And your own health app and ecosystem of connections. Your own family of Bluetooth headphones. Your own tracker tag (even before Apple announces its tracker tag). Your own pills. Your own music service. Your own news service. And so on.

These are all things Samsung has either tried or is now actively trying to do. Some of them are really successful! Samsung’s Galaxy Buds line today will feature three different variants of earbuds, each with obvious reasons and each being quite good (the new Galaxy Buds Pro is unconfirmed).

Samsung always aspires to make its users the whole world (or, er, Galaxy) to live like Apple. The disappointment is that Samsung is very good at a lot of things and if it would lean a little more into those things, it could chart a more innovative and interesting route.

Take the Samsung DX, for just one example. This is the thing that allows you to connect your phone to a larger screen like a TV or monitor and get a full desktop interface. It’s really cool, but I suspect, a more technical demo than a frequently used feature. But the Snapdragon 888 that will be on these S21 phones will in many ways be just as powerful as the chips that are supposed to run arm-based Windows laptops this year.

There is unused capability with DX that Apple could not match for years if Samsung could find out. Instead, it is trying to get tile-escape tracking tags before Apple arrives.

If Samsung will focus a bit more on where it is already ahead and where it is less behind, it will create a lot more exciting products.

That’s why I’m calling it: I’ve had it with Bixby. If Samsung can’t either bring it to sniff with Siri (less frequently) or find a way to get it back to its more concentrated roots, it’s time to send it to the farm. Or at least give users the option to remove the power button to Google Assistant (without the need for third-party hacks).

There is a small glimpse of hope. Jimmy, the promo of the new version of Samsung’s OneUI version of Android has leaked, indicating that users will be able to choose between Google feed or Samsung free feed on their home screen.

Samsung’s user interface on top of Android has rotated between the two poles like a pendulum. It gets overloaded with features and weird UIs for a few years, then pendulum gets there at the end of its arc before swinging back to a cleaner, simpler UI. It is time for the pendulum to swing back. And that means the time has come to let Bixby go.

Last ces

Are all these technically CES announcements or are some of them CES-adjacent only? When CES is all virtual is it a phenomenon where things happen or only a mood, a state of mind? Am I using jokes about philosophical quandaries as a smoke screen in an inability to determine if these things are technically part of the CES?

Sometimes questions do not have answers. We can all really know in this world that laser projectors are still really cool.

4 Latest films of Asus in place of coffee and milk. I have an anchor / nebula version of one of these mini projector / speaker things and it is one of the best things that I throw in my suitcase when I travel (er, when I traveled). You really need a dark room to be any nicer, but you’d be surprised how convenient it is to plug an HDMI cable into a projector, as much as you’re getting on a TV. Hotel or Airbnb. I might be interested in switching to this, as the Nebula version of Android TV is older, buggy, and poorly supported.

4 LG’s latest 4K laser projector supports AirPlay 2 for $ 2,999.

4 LG’s new batch of gaming monitors include 4K / 144Hz panel with HDMI 2.1.

4 But wait, Asus has more gaming monitors equipped with HDMI 2.1 port..

4 Asus’s new Chromebook CX9 provides military-grade durability.

4 Asus’s 2021 laptop line includes two new dual-screen Zenbooks. A new member joins the keyboard in the front club!

If you’re new to the Zenbook Duo line, the laptop has a primary screen (regular one) as well as a secondary screen (screenpad plus) built into the top half of the keyboard deck. It’s not really big enough to do anything, but you can load your distractions (Twitter, Discord, etc.) onto it to keep it out of your main workspace. Some programs, including Adobe’s, provide screenpad-specific interfaces.

4 Nvidia’s RTX 3000 Series Mobile Graphics Card and Wi-Fi 6E Support Get in MSI’s 2021 Gaming Laptop. Monica chin

MSI on Wednesday introduced its initial 2021 lineup of portable gaming laptops during the CES. The big news is that all the new releases are designed with Nvidia’s new GeForce RTX 3000 Series graphics card. In addition to improved frame rates and beam tracing, these chips will deliver Nvidia’s latest features, including its resizable BAR technology. They are also getting support for Wi-Fi 6E.

4 MSI’s new Creator 15 comes with RTX 3000 graphics. Monica chin

The Creator 15 is the latest level of gaming’s dump- and manufacturer-focused laptops to adopt Nvidia’s new RTX 3000 graphics, following their release at CES 2021. These laptops will use the third generation of Nvidia’s Max-Q design, engineered for thin gaming and content laptops. The new GPU also includes a new Dynamic Boost 2.0 technology that leverages AI to balance power between CPU, GPU, and GPU memory in real-time.

4 MSI’s new GE76 Raider Dragon version Tiamat is a tribute to an ancient goddess. The 10-year-old me was playing 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons if he knew someday he would have a Tiamat-themed gaming laptop.

4 The best technology of CES 2020: where are they now?

more than The ledge

4 Refrigerant imbibes: Inside the booming business of relaxation drinks. Great feature of Liz Lopatto. I have been watching advertisements for these drinks everywhere and am wondering what the deal actually was. Here is the answer.

4 Apple’s first major racial equity investment includes Detroit Developer Center and HBCU Tech Hub.

4 Intel is replacing its CEO next month.

4 Ring adds end-to-end encryption to protect your video stream.

4 Google says Android is paving a way for delaying coronovirus tracking.

4 Nvidia and AMD Address Great GPU Shortages.

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