Samsung Bixby Early Access For Galaxy S8 Is Coming To America, But With A Twist

Samsung’s Bixby early access program is currently making its way to America, allowing U.S. Galaxy S8 and S8+ users to take advantage of the Korean tech giant’s voice assistant. But there are a couple of catches to the rollout, mainly the fact that Samsung will only be rolling out the Bixby preview to “select” Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners in the U.S.

In the run-up to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ release this spring, the Bixby virtual assistant was touted as one of the flagship phones’ key selling features, a reason for users to go for Samsung’s new headliners, as opposed to competing flagships from Apple or other companies. But in mid-April, Samsung announced that Bixby wouldn’t be rolling out as planned after all, and that voice commands will only be available until “later this spring,” according to ZDNet.

That said, Bixby still came with a few functionalities, such as image recognition and barcode scanning, but users hoping for a fuller, Siri-like experience were forced to wait it out.

However, it would now appear that the Samsung Bixby early access program is coming to the U.S., according to a new report earlier this week from TechCrunch. But American Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners hoping to finally enjoy Bixby in fuller-featured form will likely be disappointed for the most part, as the report stressed that the feature would only be available to a few select owners, meaning there’s a good chance only a small percentage would be allowed to test the virtual assistant out.

A separate report from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency (via The Hindu) noted that invitations for the Samsung Bixby early access pre-testing began to go out this week. Interested users can go to Samsung’s U.S. website to begin testing the virtual assistant by entering their Samsung Account email address, agreeing with the terms and conditions, and confirming Galaxy S8 or S8+ ownership. However, there is no guarantee that you’ll be allowed to take part in testing, so if you own either one of Samsung’s 2017 flagships, it might be a good idea to act sooner rather than later.

Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant was supposed to be one of the Galaxy S8 line's key selling features. [Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

Why is Samsung limiting its Bixby early access program to only a few people, instead of releasing it for everyone a few weeks after its previous late spring deadline? According to TechCrunch, it may have something to do with the company wanting to avoid another major PR gaffe after last year’s Galaxy Note 7 debacle.

“It probably doesn’t bode particularly well for the software’s current state that the company doesn’t have the confidence to ship it to everyone. Or maybe it’s just being extra careful after a particularly rough year for Samsung public relations.”

For its part, Samsung hasn’t given any reasons as to why its Bixby early access program is so limited, and merely open to a few Galaxy S8 and S8+ users. And while it does have some big plans for the virtual assistant as it goes up against Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, nobody knows for sure when Bixby will arrive in earnest; as TechCrunch wrote, Samsung has merely promised a full public launch “in the near future,” with no tentative timeframe at the moment.

[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]