Samsung first tried to defeat Apple’s Siri with a custom digital assistant in 2012, but that didn’t succeed and the South Korean company redesigned its artificial intelligence strategy to roll out Bixby. Still, the outdated Siri rival continued to operate after getting left in the dark. That is, until now. It appears S Voice, which debuted alongside the Galaxy S III, will lose all functionality this spring.
SamMobile reports that Samsung plans to discontinue the old digital assistant on June 1, 2020. From there, S Voice will default to an error message that informs users it cannot process their request and asks them to try again later. Samsung, however, isn’t going to restore functionality at a later time. S Voice is shutting down once and for all, and customers with affected smartphones need to upgrade to a more recent model or switch to another digital assistant. Other digital assistants also offer a better set of features.
Many products shipped with S Voice and are losing access to voice commands; however, the report indicates a handful of them are capable of installing a software update that replaces it. Both the Galaxy Watch and the Galaxy Watch Active can tap into Bixby now, and Samsung should offer a similar succession plan on the Gear S3 and the Gear Sport soon. As for aged smartphones and tablets, it seems they’re completely out of luck.
Bixby, though, falls short of both Siri and Google Assistant. It doesn’t offer deep integration like Apple’s digital assistant on iOS and other operating systems, and Samsung certainly can’t match Google’s knowledge graph. In some cases, users with Bixby-supported smartphones either ignore or turn off Samsung’s digital assistant altogether. Samsung did remove the dedicated Bixby button from its Galaxy S20 lineup, though.
In a silently-shared service notice, Samsung also acknowledged S Voice will retire. It didn’t present a reason, but Samsung shouldn’t allocate resources toward S Voice while Bixby acts as the ‘flagship’ digital assistant across its smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches.