Samsung is bringing its Bixby voice assistant to the Gear S3 and Gear Sport smartwatches, replacing their ageing S Voice.
S Voice was Samsung’s first attempt at a voice assistant, but it always lagged significantly behind rivals like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. Although it was useful for asking devices to perform certain functions, it had no personality of its own and was limited in what it could do.
This changed with the introduction of Bixby, which became Samsung’s more sophisticated answer to Alexa when it launched on Galaxy smartphones in 2017.
Bixby now appears on Samsung’s current smartwatches, but owners of older models like the Gear S3 from 2016 and the Gear Sport from 2017 had to make do with S Voice. Now however, with the imminent shuttering of S Voice, Samsung is bringing Bixby to these older models.
In a world where consumer technology feels quickly outdated, it’s refreshing to see a four-year-old smartwatch receive a whole new voice assistant via a software update.
Samsung has said S Voice will be switched off across all devices on 1 June 2020, so we expect to see the upgrade to Bixby arrive then, or slightly earlier. Smartphones and tablets due to lose S Voice won’t get the upgrade to Bixby, according to SamMobile, but the Gear S3 and Gear Sport will.
Now, we won’t pretend that Bixby is the greatest voice assistant of all time; it struggled to make a name for itself at launch and has remained some way behind Alexa and Google Assistant. But nonetheless, it’s great to see Samsung offer up a free replacement to the terminated S Voice, especially for a pair of ageing smartwatches.