Bixby feature update tries to prove it still matters

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Not too long ago, there a small explosion of AI-powered, voice-controlled assistants, each trying to become an Alexa or Siri killer. Some say that it is ultimately the market that decides and the market has pretty much left Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant as the remaining contenders. Others like Microsoft's Cortana are slowly disappearing into the background but Samsung refuses to throw in the towel yet as it pushes what it claims to be a major update to Bixby based on users' requests.

Bixby launched with some capabilities that even the likes of Google Assistant would only get much later but it, unfortunately, started off on the wrong foot. Many Samsung Galaxy phone owners will probably remember Bixby more as that intrusive not-so-smart assistant that they never asked for, often accidentally launched by the dedicated button that nobody asked for either. Needless to say, Bixby's reputation was mostly negative, even when Samsung tries its best to actually make it useful.

This latest update promises to be another one that increases Bixby's accessibility and usability and, naturally, Samsung is claiming that these are turning out to be user favorites. It has, for example, switched to a new theme that is more in line with its One UI design language. What that means is that it has done away with that horizontal list of cards in favor of a vertical one.

Samsung has also reduced the amount of space that Bixby Voice takes when summoned, now only a third of the screen rather than taking over the entire display. It has also switched the conversation indicator from the round Bixby icon to a pulsating bar to further reduce the space it takes up. Google made that same change to its Assistant a year ago.

Some might actually find Bixby's arrival in Samsung DeX to be a major update, allowing them to finally use the Assistant on their desktop screen rather than on the phone. Whether that is actually more convenient than using a keyboard and mouse is debatable, which just about sums up Bixby's entire existence.