https://www.cnet.com/news/bixby-voice-vs-siri-and-google-assistant/

Can Bixby Voice beat Siri and Google Assistant?

Samsung’s voice app has a few tricks up its sleeve that might worry Google Assistant and Siri.

“Hi, Bixby, are you the best voice assistant?”

Bixby Voice is rolling out as an early preview to Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus owners, providing you signed up to test it out.

According to Samsung, Bixby Voice is designed to help you interact with and search your phone better, rather than act as a traditional voice assistant. It’s not meant to replace Google Assistant (in fact they coexist side-by-side on the S8), but it does complement it in many ways. Read more about what Bixby Voice can do in our hands-on.

Bixby Voice is an early version right now and I haven’t yet tested out everything it can do. Here are some initial comparisons between Bixby Voice, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri on iOS 10.

The basics

All three assistants can do the basics just fine, including checking weather and time, and setting alarms and reminders.

Want to snap some photos? Ask them to take a selfie and they all oblige, except Siri only opens the front-facing camera and doesn’t actually take a photo.

Bixby Voice offers more granularity in what you can do when opening the camera, such as telling it to, “Change the resolution of the rear camera to UHD.”

Response time

Running all three assistants side by side gives some interesting results. Google Assistant is by far the quickest to respond to simple requests like turning on Bluetooth or asking for the weather.

Siri comes in second and Bixby Voice is last. Don’t forget Bixby Voice is still a very early version, so I would expect speed to pick up dramatically by the time of final release. I also found that using, “Hi, Bixby” to trigger the device rather than holding down the button leads to a longer listen time, so it picks up extra dialogue from others nearby.

You can also give feedback to Bixby Voice after every command just in case it doesn’t do what you expect the first time around.

Complex commands

bixby-screens-0850-010
Bixby Voice can collect photos from the camera roll and add them to a folder.

Josh Miller/CNET

This is where Bixby Voice comes into its own. You can tell it to “Find all my photos from yesterday and put them in a folder called Weekend” and it will go right ahead.

Complex requests also work in non-Samsung apps like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can find a full list of compatible apps so far in the Bixby Labs section.

Say, “Open Instagram and post my latest photo with a caption ‘Fun day,'” and Bixby will automate the entire process of uploading an image and entering the caption. It pauses for you to review before posting.

Google Assistant can only open the app when you say, “Open Instagram.” If you try asking it to do the same thing as Bixby Voice, it returns Google search results. Note that third-party actions are coming soon to Assistant, so this result may change. Siri responds with, “I wish I could, but Instagram hasn’t set that up with me yet.” Like Google Assistant, Siri can simply open the app.

Siri and Google Assistant do have integrations with other third-party apps, such as WhatsApp, Lyft and OpenTable. Tell them to “Send a WhatsApp message to Charlie” and they’ll understand. (Yes, Bixby does this too.)

Custom commands

s8quickcommands
Use quick commands to shorten lengthy, common queries.

Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET

Bixby Voice lets you shorten lengthy or more difficult commands into bite-size sentences. You can either do this when you make voice queries by tapping the “Add custom command” option, or through Bixby Home.

Google Assistant can do this too through the Google Home app. Go to settings and select Shortcuts, then map your short phrase to an action. One suggestion is, “OK, Google, cheer me up,” which will show corgi videos on YouTube.

But one of Bixby Voice’s biggest strengths is learning more about what you actually want to do. Say something like, “Post my latest selfie to Facebook,” and Bixby prompts you to choose what you want from a list. I selected the option to share a photo from a gallery; then it opened the gallery, chose the share tab and created a new Facebook post with the most recent selfie.

Conversations

Google Assistant shines when it comes to having a more natural, contextual conversation. Ask it to find movies with Sean Connery and it provides the list; then ask a follow-up question like, “How tall is he?”

The Assistant knows the ‘he” you’re talking about is Sean Connery and provides the results. Siri, on the other hand, isn’t able to remember the context of what you asked previously.

Bixby Voice needs a particular sentence structure to get the movie results. If you say, “Show me Sean Connery movies,” it searches for videos on your phone, but if you ask, “What movies has Sean Connery been in?” or say, “Search the internet for Sean Connery movies,” it brings up web results. If you ask Bixby Voice how tall he is, it yields the same result as Siri — that is, it doesn’t understand that your query is about Sean Connery’s height.

Stay tuned for more comparisons as Samsung rolls out additional features and functionality for Bixby Voice.

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