Galaxy S8 and S8+ Software Rundown — Bixby, DeX and Other Features
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are important devices for Samsung. They feature some of the best hardware capabilities ever produced by the company. But viewing the hardware in isolation from the software takes away from the complete, cohesive and holistic experience that the smartphones aim to provide.
Samsung has put in a lot of effort into the software capabilities on the Galaxy S8’s, and we’ll briefly touch upon those below. Are they gimmicks? Are they useful and thoughtful additions? We’ll let you decide!
The UX on the new Galaxy S8 and S8+ has been centered around the experience originating from the interaction with the Infinity Display. The UX on the device aims to be seamless, enhancing the flow of user interactions.
The Always-On Display on the device will complement the color of the phone. You also get a Home button on the Always-On Display, which complements the actual embedded pressure-sensitive home button below the display. You also get features like multi-window and edge display, so you can look forward to doing more with the large display.
The new UX gives the users options to have the dock expand into the app drawer, building up on the seamless experience. Or, you can always fall back onto the option of having an app drawer icon.
The app icons and typography on the Galaxy S8 also work towards the phones new design language. Samsung is making use of continuous curves and lines to allude depth, while still retaining an overall flat look.
We’ll take a more detailed look at the new UX in our review of the Samsung Galaxy S8, so stay tuned.
Bixby is Samsung’s answer to the slew of virtual assistants coming in from various competitors, and the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are the first devices to preload this smart and contextual assistant and even dedicate a physical button to it.
The focus with Bixby echoes Samsung’s new “seamless” mantra on the S8, as it makes interactions with services, apps and even the phone more instinctive and natural. Bixby incorporates and leverages contextual awareness in order to learn the users’ habits and respond accordingly.
Bixby offers four main features: Voice, Vision, Reminder and Home.
Bixby Voice is activated by pressing and holding the dedicated hardware button on the side of the S8’s, or by saying “Bixby” out loud. Bixby would then allow the user to control the phone with a combination of touch and voice interchangeably. Bixby also utilizes natural language understanding, so it adapts to the speaking style of the user. If an unknown command does appear, it will prompt for more information instead of simply cancelling the command entirely.
Bixby Vision interface relies on what the user is looking at and then taking action accordingly. It allows users to use the Galaxy S8’s Camera app to reverse image search what they are seeing on their viewfinder, look for more information like nearby places, shop online and even translate text. All of this is built-in, so there is no need for additional external apps if Bixby is as good as Samsung claims it is.
The service also does reminders, which can be configured on the basis of time or location. Bixby can also be used to set reminders to mark their place on text articles and even videos to allow for resuming later on.
Its dedicated home screen works a lot like Google Now, and can be activated with a single left swipe on the home screen or a short press of the dedicated Bixby button. Home displays a customizable card-like interface, showing information like frequent contacts, missed call info, music controls, as well as pull in information from social media. The highlight of Home is its contextual and adaptive behavior, which learns the information that the user prefers and assigns them higher display priority for the right time of need. You will also be able to interact with cards from apps like Gmail and partners like Uber.
Bixby’s Voice feature will support only English and Korean at launch though, with more languages being added soon after. Vision’s shopping services will be available in several countries including UK, USA and Korea, and will be expanded to more countries later on.
Samsung DeX is an accessory feature of the Samsung Galaxy S8, requiring the Samsung DeX Station to work.
Samsung DeX provides an Android-based desktop-like experience to allow a, wait for it, seamless experience between desktop and smartphone. You can access apps, edit documents, browse the web, watch videos and more using your smartphone’s processing and connectivity capabilities but extending them to a larger display, keyboard and mouse.
The desktop environment on DeX is a redesigned Android UI which is optimized for use with a keyboard and mouse. It includes multiple resizable windows, contextual menus and a “desktop version Web browser”. Samsung is collaborating with Microsoft and Adobe to enable DeX compatibility with Microsoft Office and Adobe mobile apps, with more features than what’s available to phone and tablet users. You can also utilize DeX to access Windows OS-based applications by allowing remote access to virtual desktops through partners like VMware, Citrix and Amazon Web Services.
To start using DeX, simply insert the Samsung S8 or S8+ into the DeX station, and connect the station to an HDMI monitor, and make use of Bluetooth, USB or RF-type keyboard and mouse.
For security, Samsung added a lot of features in areas the mainstream consumer will notice as well as places where they won’t.
Since it is a Samsung device, there will of course be the Knox security platform preloaded onto the device, providing strengthened security features for individuals as well as enterprise users.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ also incorporate an improved iris scanner, and feature the more traditional biometric authenticators like fingerprint scanning and facial recognition.
Samsung Pass is the new feature on the S8 that allows you to register IDs and passwords for websites. You can then use biometric authenticators to verify your identity and log into mobile banking apps and websites on the Samsung Browser.
Samsung has also added in features to the S8 and S8+ which are not device specific and either pre-existed, or can be rolled out to more devices.
One of such features is Samsung Connect, which lets users manage and monitor smart devices in their home from one unified app. This puts the Galaxy S8 as the controlling remote for your IoT peripherals.
Samsung Cloud allows users to store data online in a secure manner and view it on other devices.
Bluetooth Dual Audio allows one smartphone to stream audio to two Bluetooth audio devices, allowing for independent control of volume levels.
Of course, there is also the classic Samsung Pay, which is rather unique in its support for MST terminals for physical payments.
There is a lot more to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ than what the spec sheet denotes on its face. The software is claimed to work seamlessly with the hardware, which should give users one of the best smartphone experiences that they will witness in 2017.
What are your thoughts on the software experience on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+? Let us know in the comments below!