What's the first thing you do when you get a new Samsung phone? For many, the answer is to disable Bixby, Samsung's virtual assistant, and to replace Samsung Keyboard with Google's GBoard.
So why doesn't Samsung just remove these often complained about features? In short, analysts argue that it would not be a viable or fiscally smart option for Samsung to abandon all of its proprietary software and apps with the purpose of only sticking with Googe's offerings.
However, they do agree, Samsung needs to focus on "creating better-differentiated software rather than trying to replicate something someone else does better."
Last week, Android Police wrote an article detailing how Samsung pushes its users to use specific software that is not good (i.e. Bixby and Samsung Keyboard). For example, the article notes how Samsung ties Bixby to the "already limited selection of hardware buttons on its products." Even as the company is embracing Wear OS, it notes Samsung's "stubborn insistence on bringing Bixby along just feels like an anachronism." The article also calls out Samsung Keyboard coming across as a "feature-rich solution" that should be competing with Googe's Gboard, but that "it just doesn't work that well."
"Samsung's software choices so often feel like they're for the company's benefit, and not ours," wrote the author, Stephen Schenck. "I'm not saying I want to see Samsung abandon One UI and make Galaxy phones more Pixel-y, or even more like stock AOSP, either. But sometimes you just have to pick your battles, and when it comes to its virtual assistant and its Android keyboard, it's long past time for Samsung to throw in the towel."
Should Samsung keep some of its software, or get rid of it all and rely on Google's offerings?
Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's worldwide device tracker, agrees, adding that Samsung, which has some of the best Android phones, needs to narrow its ambitions when it comes to software and services by focusing on the good. That could mean relegating to Google or others when it cannot offer a top-notch experience, he says.
Case in point, Ubrani agrees that Bixby is far from a great example when compared to Samsung's S Pen software, which hones in on Samsung's "software prowess."
But at the same time, he says it wouldn't be smart for Samsung to get rid of all of its software efforts "as many of its customers are drawn to Samsung simply because of the software."
In fact, what Samsung should be doing is re-evaluating which software and apps do well, says Anshel Sag, a senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
"I don't think it makes sense for Samsung [to abandon all of its software and apps] given its current investments," he says. "I think the best thing for Samsung would be to re-evaluate all of its software solutions and identify where it is and isn't competitive and prune the apps that aren't [competitive] so that it can focus on new areas that might be worthwhile outside of where Google plays today."
Should Samsung get rid of Bixby?
Schenck writes that Samsung's biggest failure with Bixby "isn't that it's less polished than Assistant or less capable of helping us, but that Samsung's made it so aggressively present."
He notes how the software inserts itself everywhere to the user when you're using a Samsung device.
"It feels almost obvious at this point that the company must realize we all prefer Assistant, and the steadfast nature with which Samsung keeps Bixby upon us comes across less like self-promotion and more like self-delusion with each subsequent generation of devices," he writes.
And while Ubrani and Sag agree that Bixby isn't good and go as far as to say that perhaps Samsung should get rid of it, Mishaal Rahman, senior technical editor at Esper and former editor-in-chief of XDA Developers, thinks even though Bixby isn't good Samsung should actually keep the service.
"Google's lead over Samsung is not insurmountable in every area. It would be a fool's errand for Samsung to pursue its own search engine, but Google isn't guaranteed its dominance in virtual assistant or input methods. In fact, Google has already been successfully challenged in both areas by Amazon Alexa and Microsoft's SwiftKey respectively," he says.
Rahman adds that Samsung's maintenance of its own suite of applications also gives the company "leverage over Google in licensing negotiations."
In mid-2021, 36 U.S. attorneys general revealed how Google felt threatened by Samsung bolstering its Galaxy Store by signing exclusive deals with popular app developers. Further, during the Epic Games vs. Google lawsuit, documents indicated how Google estimated a loss in revenue as high as $6 billion should alternative app stores "gain full traction."
Like the others, Rahman doesn't think it's a smart option for Samsung to get rid of all of its software and applications.
"For other, smaller device makers, it may be a fiscally smart decision to stick to Google's apps where needed, because developing alternatives requires considerable time and resources," he says.
Samsung can't get rid of its proprietary apps because it relies on revenue from ads, to an extent
Rahman adds that Samsung has engaged in practices of pushing advertisements through many of its proprietary apps but that the company said they would commit to stop doing this last year.
"I have not heard of them reneging on this promise, at least in devices sold in the U.S.," he said.
He does note that inserting ads is one way for smartphone companies to earn additional revenue and that "it's no surprise that Samsung did this when it faced pressure from Chinese device makers to lower the prices of its handsets."
But even if that were the case, Ubrani doesn't think Samsung would suffer even if it removed ads.
"Ads within proprietary apps or the OS is undoubtedly a way for Samsung and other smartphone makers to pad their margins on budget devices. However, the effectiveness of this business model is still debatable and it's unlikely that the revenue from these ads is the sole profitability driver for these devices."
Sag notes that it likely isn't even a "significant driver of revenue, especially when you consider how much it must cost to build and maintain all that software."
Samsung would lose its edge over other manufacturers if it got rid of its apps all together
More importantly, what differentiates Samsung from other manufacturers is its proprietary software and application.
Rahman notes that if Samsung abandoned its offerings in favor of Google's then "Samsung would lose a competitive advantage."
"Currently, many of Samsung's proprietary applications offer additional features if the user owns other Galaxy devices. Samsung applications also integrate well with Microsoft applications; for example, Samsung Notes syncs with Microsoft OneNote, while Samsung Reminder syncs with Microsoft To Do," he says. "By migrating fully to Google's software suite, Samsung device owners would lose out on many of these integrations."
In fact, Samsung could even scale back on other projects and would still be fine, Ubrani says.
"By focusing on its efforts on the good software and services and scaling back on other areas, Samsung can still maintain its dominant position in the smartphone market and is very unlikely to lose any differentiation," he says.
Sag adds that if Samsung gets rid of all of its proprietary applications and software it would "absolutely destroy differentiation" and its a key driving factor as to why any large manufacturer would ever do it.
"The [manufacturers] want to show how they are different even though I do believe there are people that want Samsung hardware and Google software only," he says.
The last time something like that happened was with the Google Play Edition phones which started in 2013 and were discontinued in 2015. These phones used the same design as major manufacturer flagship phones (like Samsung and HTC) and incorporated Google's operating software. The idea was the offer of a "pure Android experience," according to XDA developers.
Sag says that if this type of phone were to re-enter the market it would "still differentiate on hardware but it would be more aesthetic."
Shruti Shekar is Android Central's managing editor. She was born in India, brought up in Singapore, but now lives in Toronto and couldn't be happier. She started her journalism career as a political reporter in Ottawa, Canada's capital, and then made her foray into tech journalism at MobileSyrup and most recently at Yahoo Finance Canada. When work isn't on her mind, she loves working out, reading thrillers, watching the Raptors, and planning what she's going to eat the next day.
Not sure if Mrs. Bixby would miss Mr. Bixby if he was disappeared.
However, if most people disable a feature as soon as they get the phone set up. it's a great hint that most do not like it.
Possibly, a compromise could be made. Have Bixby disabled and if wanted, someone can make a concerted effort to actually enable the feature.
OR EASIER STILL, don't install it on the phone, and OFFER IT as a downloaded app through the galaxy store. That's another annoying thing, apps pre-installed on phones that can't be removed that can EASILY be downloaded with the playstore. I know I had one device that didn't install those apps, but had dummy apps that when you clicked on it, it would take you to the playstore and download them for you; or you could delete them. MAN, I can't remember what phone that was that did that. Want to say Motorola Z-series, might have been the Razer phone. I don't know. I have like 20 phones, since I don't throw them out.
That's not how competitive edges work. It needs to be preinstalled, but let us remove it.
I don't know who all these people are that hate Samsung's keyboard. I certainly never hear anyone complaining about it. I personally prefer it to Google's keyboard but at the end of the day they are just keyboards. Google should provide a system that runs apps and a system to deliver apps and make money but in the middle, they should get out of the way and let manufacturers do whatever. It's like when you and everybody talk about the Stock Android experience as if it's such a great thing, when most people actively choose not to get it. If you made identical phones hardware wise, one running stock Android and one running One UI, I'd choose One UI. Since the days of the S3 every iteration of Stock Android just consistently adds features that were available in Samsung's skin before - sometimes for years. Frankly, I don't see the benefit.
I don't understand the hate on Samsung's keyboard. I also prefer Samsung Messages (way better dark mode). The Samsung Gallery app seems way better than the default Google one on my Motorola device. On my devices I make sure to always disable the Google App and Chrome since I prefer Samsung's browser (although I do have Ungoogled Chrome installed just so I can keep tabs on how it's progressing).
I disable or remove most Google apps. I keep Maps, Play Services and the Play Store though. Am a huge fan of Samsung Dex and Bixby Routines.
Samsung apps for the most part integrate better than Google Apps with the device. SmartThings app is also great.
Bixby Routines is AWESOME!
People that don't use Samsung will think Gboard is a better keyboard that Samsung's default keyboard. The only thing Gboard has that Samsung Keyboard don't is emoji kitchen. The only Google apps I use on my Samsung are Chrome (cos of tab grouping), Lens, maps, Android messages (cos RCS on Samsung message don't work in my country),
YouTube, Play Store and Playgames. The rest, Samsung wins
The word you were after is Doesn't, not Don't.
The Samsung keyboard sucks. There you go, now you've seen at least one person.
Guess that settles it.
I agree on Samsung's keyboard, it is good. I use a Z Fold 3 and GBoard and Swiftkey both suck when the device is unfolded. Also, I am not a fan of Swiftkey because I do nor appreciate the space key having the word "Microsoft" on it (I have searched for a way to remove that but have not found a way).
Swiftkey is great except for the inability to turn off flow or gestures completely. As for 'Microsoft' being on it, there are more important things to focus on when it comes to a keyboard. The Gboard is WAY too simple and like Apple's terrible keyboard.
Samsung Keyboard is fine. Personally I much prefer Swiftkey but wouldn't bother to install it on family phones. In fact I did my Mum's old phone, didn't bother on her new one and she's not even noticed. Samsung Gallery is MUCH better than Google Photos. Remember the Galaxy S4: Google Play Edition? Samsung did just that. Released a version with stock Android and it was "so successful" Google killed the project after only a handful of devices.
It’s Android central. They swallow anything Google sends their way even if it’s junk
Excellent article. Take one look at Google's messaging mess over the past many years and a lot of questions get answered. People, if they're paying attention, have figured out that it's a fool's errand to presume Google's commitment to anything. There's a reason there are websites like Google Graveyard. Samsung has taken a measured approach in almost all of its efforts, with some successes and failures along the way. You know...like life in general. The only Google offering I regularly use is Maps, and even there, Google can't leave it alone. They're constantly trying to "make it better" and you wake up one day and a feature that you actually relied on is gone, only to unceremoniously return a few years later with no explanation. Samsung, like Apple, is a known quantity. Google is a crapshoot.
This is, unfortunately, very true.
Thank goodness we have alternatives. Not all of us are Google purists or automatons. Google Maps is amazing. My carefully fine-tuned YouTube feed is so useful that I pay for premium. And Google Play store is a nicer experience compared to the naggy, cluttered looking Samsung Store. But I actually prefer Bixby over Google Assistant. I'm more interested in device-centric voice control which is where Bixby excels. I'm also a huge fan of Samsung Internet browser and Microsoft Launcher on Android (and Microsoft Edge on Windows and macOS). After trying Gboard, I still prefer Samsung and Swiftkey keyboards. I've also been using Bing search for years. Periodically, I'll test a search phrase on both engines to see if Google really does provide better results. It turns out the loudest fanboy voices online are wrong. At least in the U.S., Bing/Microsoft search is every bit as good as Google. So, I agree that Samsung, Microsoft and others should continue offering alternatives/competition—despite the non-stop whining from Google fanboys.
agreed...that's why I use Bixby, because it's device-centric.
Seems like Mr. Stephen Schenck is a male Karen.
If he wants everything to be Google and "Pixely" so bad go buy a freaking Pixel phone!!!!!
Better yet if he wants no choice and everything to be the same buy a freaking Apple phone, LOL. Some people actually like Samsung stuff (maybe not Bixby) and buy their phones BECAUSE they are not like a Pixel or anyone else.
I couldn't even read the article. Just the title evokes rage. This constant effort to shove useless bloat on PAYING customers is a major reason why the ONLY Samsung device I will ever own is one of their tablets. And this is because there's little competition in this regard. Samsung does make a good tablet. Fortunately my many years in IT has enabled me to understand how to use ADB to strip the Bixby crap out of the tablet, along with a few other useless pieces of shovelware. Having said all of this I do acknowledge that there are those who like Bixby! OK, fine, then at least make the crap removable! Then I might some day revisit the possibility of owning a Samsung phone. Otherwise...no go!
P.S.: I do not use ANY assistant app. I do not talk to my phone...I do like Star Trek but let's be real...talking to your phone in public makes you look like...well you can decide that for yourself. So my hatred is not for Bixby alone but for ANY piece of software that I do not want or use and that is not easily uninstalled! I PAID for my phone/tool and I decide what works and what doesn't!
Here's a video of kittens. Watch it and breath deeply. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHD5Lc8j8h4&ab_channel=CutestKittensCity
"I want my bloat to be exclusively Google bloat! Raaaaage!"
In a general sense, this is why I prefer Android Os to iPhone. There are so much choices from HW OEM variety to software (UI, apps etc value proposition). Please don't get me wrong, all these choices and deferrizations also brings mixed bags fragmentation to Android. Before I go any further, this is a disclosure: I am a MSFT service guy. I use Pixel because of it's stock Os and timely updates revs to avoid said fragmentation.
I removed all Google offerings I could remove and disable those I could not remove and kept those I need. (Google Map and AA) The best phone for mw would a Samsung S22-Ultra with stock android loaded with everything MSFT services (Bing, All Office Suite, MSFT Launcher, Swift key, SMS Organizer, Edge browser, MSFT authenticator), plus Google Maps, AA, and Alexa assistant. I guess, I can only dream, who knows Duo2 or 3 might be close to 75% of that dream.
I use Samsung keyboard, samsung email, and Samsung Internet. They are all fine as far as I am concerned. I really like that Samsung internet allows plugins to ad block unlike Chrome whose "ad blocker" doesn't block anything in my experience, at least not on Android. BUT I HATE BIXBY. Boy that stuff SUCKS and it insists on intruding into everything AND Samsung refuses to allow Galaxy users an alternative like disabling it. I don't use assistant either since it wants to know EVERYTHING about me and wants the title to my first born male son to be able to use it. I want to have NO DAMN ASSISTANT AT ALL.
Why would anyone prefer LESS choice?
Bixby does have some advantages especially like the Bixby routines to automate your phone. I know Google has some routines but most of it is done online for Bixby is done through an app which makes it easier and also Bixby is capable of controlling your phone easier like asking Bixby to close all apps and it just does it or open an app and it just does it I know Google can open a few apps but it can't close them all or if you tell it to go back to the home screen it thinks you want to go home I can Google maps so Bixby does work as far as like a device controller but yeah I wouldn't use Bixby for every day assistant stuff like Google's capable of I still use Google for that
There's some good reasoning here. The way I'd put it is, "If Samsung wanted to produce a phone that was basically all Google, it would produce a Pixel." Samsung is responsible for producing some of things I don't like enough to use them. They are also responsible for some things (like the Note series and the Folds) that I really like. Let them innovate and then use what you like.
The only Samsung app I use is their web browser, and I only use that because Google refuses to allow ad blockers in Chrome Mobile. I buy Samsung for the hardware-- the better screen, the better camera. Software that I can't get rid of isn't an advantage, it's something I'm forced to accept to get the features I want.
For Chrome with adblocking, web search for Bromite browser.
I like choices. One may think all these software as bloatware but Samsung wares do not slow down the phone with flagship SoC. Plus, I use most of Samsung software except the browser (I use edge for sync between all of my devices such as my PC). I rarely use voice assistant so having Bixby or not doesn't apply to me.
With possible OS switch (Fuchsia) from Samsung in the future perhaps all of these will lead us to somewhere down the road who knows..
Cool cool, and here's a Greater COUNTER to this BS, since every silly proprietary visible Samsung App on a phone literally carries with it 5-10 hidden apps that you can't easily disable. SO... THERE'S that MINOR reason. I know this as someone who has rooted around Samsung's root folder quite a bit as a fan of custom roms. SO... That's why they should get rid of it. I get the argument that it forces competition against google and whatnot, but Samsung's already destroyed their name and product line with so many other dumb choices: removal of expandable storage, punch-hole cam, removal of the headphone jack, going all glass, removal of FLAT displays and having the hard to protect annoying curved displays that also look terrible.
These are real world examples of companies destroying their brand names: Sony, HTC, Motorola, Blackberry, Huawei, LG...
They were destroyed by not being able to compete with someone like Samsung.
It's always entertaining to read comment section fantasy. To see bots trying to push an alternate reality agenda.
REALLY, so everyone who doesn't agree with you is automatically a bot? What fantasy was I pushing? HMM? Have you rooted around a samsung's system directory? I have. There's a reason why for the longest time, until they got absurd RAM options, they were consuming 60% of RAM on idle with zero apps in the recent tabs. There's a reason why even with their silly battery capacities they still have TERRIBLE battery life. Because of EXACTLY what I stated. You deflected without listing counter points. Also, SAMSUNG only wins out, since they have the most money, they're something absurd like 10-15% of South Korea's GDP, can't think of any other company in the world like that, maybe OIL Czars in the middle east, but aren't those usually "state" owned. Hardware wise, they're great, but people have been complaining about SAMSUNG bloat for ages, since the first Galaxy S phone came out. This article literally wouldn't exist if the bloat issue was "fantasy" as you put it. So it's you who is the delusional one.
Huawei did nothing of the sort. They were quite handily competing with Samsung until they got sanctioned to death.
^^True statement right here^^
Honestly, if Google assistant keeps on getting worse, Bixby may actually become better than it accidentally lol.
that would be something
I avoid Samsung phones because of Bixby and their bloatware. If you compare the experience of a Samsung phone to a OnePlus phone or a Pixel, Samsung feels sluggish and packed with stuff you don't need. My wife almost always buys Samsung phones and I've owned them in the past, so I know what they're like. I own a couple of Samsung tablets. But until they get rid of Bixby and the Bixby button I will not be buying any of their phones.
Was in the same boat 90% of the phones I daily drove were Note series. Then when they dropped things like headphone jacks and external storage, I dropped them. My current phone is the last GOOD LG, the V60. Which while trying to do something with the touch buttons stumbled across a feature they kept hidden and doesn't appear on their website, Wacom AES support. Don't know why that's hidden. Also their silly dual screen case that you got for free (via mail-in) supported the stylus. Also the V60 has cameras, headphone jack and external storage.
Maybe a few years ago for, OnePlus, but now they're just another ersatz Samsung. May as well buy the real deal. But disabling Bixby is trivial, and the Bixby button has been gone for a couple of years. Which is kind of a shame... It was quite useful once remapped.
I haven't owned a Samsung device since Note 7. I went to Pixels then when OnePlus came to CDMA I went with them, as I had always wanted to try them. I don't miss the bloat and Samsung apps forced upon me. Although OP is going a similar route now. You can't disable or uninstall messages or their gallery app. I use Textra and Google Photos. The Gboard is WAY too basic for me and too much like the terrible iPhone keyboard. Swiftkey is great for my needs and I've been using it for years.
Since you haven't owned a Samsung device since Note 7, you might be pleasantly surprised with where One Ui is now.
Worth a shot.