With the Samsung Galaxy S21, it’s time to let Bixby or shut up
Today, Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, and Galaxy S21 Ultra (I’ll release One built based on Zune thanks). This happens 2 months earlier than usual for an S line, but otherwise the text will remain the same.
This is the text. Samsung will be the first major Android maker to come out of the gate with the latest Qualcomm chipset, this time with the Snapdragon 888. Samsung will use its unremarkably massive marketing budget and long-standing relationships with carriers to ensure it’s the default if you want a premium Android phone – Especially If you are making this purchase in a US airline store.
Other parts of the script aren’t necessarily foolproof but are safe bets. They are likely excellent, well-balanced, and capable phones. Samsung will make big claims with the camera that will require rigorous testing to verify. Of course, the ever-swinging pendulum of Samsung’s OneUI program in its current arc will continue to overload.
This last part of the script prompted me to think of one of the main recurring characters in it: Bixby. Samsung’s digital assistant launched in 2017 with the Galaxy S8. It was another digital assistant, however Dan Seifert also wrote at the time It had a very clear and very good competence that helped distinguish it from Alexa, Siri and Google. Samsung hasn’t been trying to turn Bixby into a general purpose assistant, who knows and does it all. Had her concentration:
Samsung understands that it cannot compete with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others when it comes to the power of raw machine learning and putting massive amounts of information at your fingertips, so it uses Bixby to solve a simpler task, a task these companies have largely ignored. Bixby won’t try to be everything’s helper. Instead, it will be the “bright side” who complements those other services. It’s a new UI, not a new way to question the height of the Eiffel Tower.
Bixby was supposed to be an interface, not a helper. Was this really a viable strategy? Who do you know! Certainly not Samsung, which has done too quickly what Samsung tends to do with software: give in to feature sneaking. Over the past few years, Bixby has transformed into the thing it originally designed Not To be: a worse version of Google Assistant.
Samsung tried to push Bixby. You have created a dedicated button for it. He dropped this button later but set it with a long press of the power button. It built in Bixby actions (which were related to Bixby’s original purpose). But then I hooked Bixby into a friendly feed for content that lives to the left of the home screen. And it announced independent Bixby smart speakers that never shipped.
On Vergecast we have a running joke Bixby is a shoe-clad dog who is also a personal butler. He is well-intentioned and eager to please, but he falters a lot at the end and doesn’t do a very good job serving drinks or answering the door because It’s a dog wearing shoes.
Speaking of shoes, put yourself at Samsung. Why do you keep developing Bixby? I can only think of two reasons, one good and the other bad.
The good reason: Hedge against Google and Android. It is always possible that Google will do a horrible thing and Samsung may want to come to the rescue and do without Google services (or even Android itself). It’s not a terrible idea to have your own digital assistant on the go at once. If nothing else, it could be a signal to Google that Samsung is actually ready to leave and do Tizen and Bixby in certain negotiations.
This is the good cause – or at least as close to a good cause as I can come to it – but I don’t know if this is the real cause. I suspect the real reason is the same as the bad: Samsung still, After all these years and after all her successes she tries to be an Apple.
Being Apple is shorthand for owning an overall ecosystem where your users live and breathe your services and thus get locked into your products. If you’re going to have an all-encompassing ecosystem, you need to cover all the bases, and so on: Bixby.
And also: thy Fitness service. A health app for your communications ecosystem. Your family of bluetooth headphones. Your Tracking Tag (before Apple announced its tracking tag). Your tablet devices. Your music service. Your news service. And so on.
These are all things Samsung has tried or is trying to do now. Some of them are really successful! Today’s Galaxy Buds line from Samsung will consist of three different types of earbuds, each with a clear reason to be each so good (assuming the new Galaxy Buds Pro doesn’t smell).
Samsung has always had aspirations to build an entire world (or, Galaxy) for its users to live in, just like Apple. The frustrating thing is that Samsung is very good at a lot of things, and if it leans a little more into these things, it can chart a more creative and interesting path.
Take Samsung DeX, as just one example. It’s the thing that allows you to connect your phone to a bigger screen like a TV or screen and have a complete desktop interface. It’s really cool, but I think it’s more of a tech offering than a frequently used feature. But the Snapdragon 888 that will be on these S21 phones will be in many ways the same power as the chips that will work on Windows laptops this year.
There is untapped potential with DeX that Apple couldn’t stand up to for years if Samsung could figure it out. Instead, it is making efforts to get Tile-esque tracking flags out before Apple can.
If Samsung were to focus a little more on what it really is and a little less on where it lagged sadly, it would create more exciting products.
That’s why I call it: I got it with Bixby. If Samsung can’t either bring it in with Siri (low bar!) Or find a way to get it back to its more focused roots, then it’s time to send it to the farm. Or at least give users the option to reset the power button to Google Assistant (without requiring a third party hack).
There is a small glimmer of hope. Jimmy is infusion of promo The new release of Samsung OneUI Android version demonstrates that users will be able to choose between a Google feed or a free Samsung feed on their home screens.
Samsung’s UI swings on top of the Android system like a pendulum between two poles. It gets loaded with features and a weird UI for a few years, then the pendulum hovers there at the end of its arc before swinging back to a cleaner, simpler UI. Time for the pendulum to swing back. This means that it is time to let Bixby go.
Latest CES events
Are all of these announcements from CES technically or are some of them adjacent to CES? When CES is hypothetical, is it an event where things happen or just a mood, a state of mind? Do I use jokes about philosophical predicaments as a smokescreen to cover up my inability to determine whether these things are technically part of CES or not?
Sometimes the questions don’t have answers. All we can really know in this world is that laser projectors are still really cool.
┏ Asus latte distributes movies instead of coffee and milk. I have an Anker / Nebula version of one of these small projectors / speakers and it’s one of the best things I throw in my bag when I travel (i.e. when I travel). You really need a dark room for it to be fine, but you’ll be surprised how convenient it is to connect an HDMI cable to your projector than to handle any TV that might be on a hotel or Airbnb. I might be interested to switch to this, because Nebula’s version of Android TV is outdated, buggy, and not well supported.
┏ Supports LG’s latest 4K laser projector AirPlay 2 for $ 2,999.
┏ LG’s new batch of gaming monitors includes a 4K / 144Hz panel with HDMI 2.1.
┏ But wait, Asus has more gaming monitors with HDMI 2.1 ports.
┏ Asus’ new Chromebook CX9 delivers military-grade durability.
┏ The Asus 2021 laptop line includes two new dual-screen ZenBooks. New member joins Keyboard In The Front club!
If you’re new to the ZenBook Duo line, laptops have a primary screen (the regular display) as well as a secondary screen (ScreenPad Plus) integrated into the upper half of the keyboard surface. They aren’t big enough to do anything, but you can load your own distractions (Twitter, Discord, etc.) to them to keep them out of your main workspace. Some programs, including Adobe, offer interfaces for ScreenPad.
┏ MSI 2021 gaming laptops get Nvidia RTX 3000 Series mobile graphics and Wi-Fi 6E support. Monica Chen
MSI presented its early line of gaming laptops for 2021 during CES on Wednesday. The big news is that all new versions are equipped with the all-new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 Series graphics cards. In addition to improved frame rates and ray tracing, these chips will bring Nvidia’s latest features, including scalable BAR technology. They are also getting support for Wi-Fi 6E.
┏ MSI’s new Creator 15 software comes bundled with RTX 3000 graphics. Monica Chen
Creator 15 is the latest release of Nvidia’s new gaming-focused laptops to embrace Nvidia’s new RTX 3000 graphics, after its release at CES 2021. These laptops will use Nvidia’s third-generation Max-Q design, which is ergonomically designed for light gaming and PCs Content portable. The new GPUs also include new Dynamic Boost 2.0 technology that takes advantage of artificial intelligence to balance power between the CPU, GPU, and GPU memory in real time.
┏ MSI’s new GE76 Raider Dragon Edition is a tribute to an ancient goddess. At the age of 10, I was playing the Dungeons & Dragons debut, which he would have lost had he known someday there would be a Tiamat-themed gaming laptop.
┏ CES 2020’s Best Tech: Where Are They Now?
more than the edge
┏ Chill Drink: Inside the burgeoning relaxation beverage business. Great feature of Liz Lopatto. I’ve been seeing ads for these drinks all over the place and wondering what the deal really is. Here is the answer.
┏ Apple’s first major race equity investments include a Detroit Developer Center and the HBCU Technology Center.
┏ Intel will replace its CEO next month.
┏ Ring adds end-to-end encryption to protect your video streams.
┏ Google says a fix for Android’s coronavirus tracking delays is on the way.
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