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How to get Bixby cards on your Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung has officially thrown its metaphorical hat into the virtual assistant fray with Bixby, its answer to Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple's smart assistants. And now, you can unofficially get Bixby cards on your older Samsung phone running Nougat.

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As each of those products has matured, the overlap and differences between them become clearer, and Bixby looks to be taking a different tack again. While Google, Apple and Microsoft focus on making their assistants able to perform (mostly) retrieval-based tasks ('what will the weather be like tomorrow?'), Bixby is looking to be more of a platform with an extensible eco-system, a little closer to Amazon's Alexa. 

Samsung, however, has a whole range of different devices to support - phones, computers, home appliances, smart devices and more - so it is focusing on making all those disparate devices easy to use via voice commands, which it says will make Bixby fundamentally different to current voice assistants.

The aim of Bixby, Samsung says, is to make all devices and apps seamlessly interoperable via either voice or touch, while delivering contextually relevant features depending on the device and what the user is trying to achieve. In future, Samsung says it wants Bixby to be able to understand incomplete commands and pieces of information too, reducing the need for the user to say any particular phrase or command to achieve an operation. 

samsung galaxy s8 vergleich 03
Bixby is only pre-installed on Galaxy phones. / © AndroidPIT

Bixby on the Galaxy S8

Perhaps more interestingly is the desire from Samsung to "reduce friction" associated with getting used to a new voice command system. As part of that, it confirmed that its next device will have a dedicated Bixby button on the side. 

"Confusion around activating a voice interface is a barrier we have removed to make it feel easier and more comfortable to give commands. For example, instead of taking multiple steps to make a call – turning on and unlocking the phone, looking for the phone application, clicking on the contact bar to search for the person that you’re trying to call and pressing the phone icon to start dialing – you will be able to do all these steps with one push of the Bixby button and a simple command," Samsung said

The Bixby button is a good idea
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Don't get your hopes up too high for Bixby's launch day skills, however, as Samsung says that, to begin with, only a "subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled", but that those abilities will expand over time. Ultimately, an SDK will be made available for third-party developers too, allowing for other apps to become Bixby-enabled. 

As Bixby runs in the cloud, rather than on any particular device, all that's really required is an internet connection. 

This is likely to be a key part of the success of the Bixby assistant - if Samsung convinces developers and device makers that integrating its voice control system is worthwhile, the eco-system of Bixby-enabled devices will grow an awful lot faster. 

Bixby on older Samsung phones

If, like us, you can't wait for the launch of the S8 to go poking around with Bixby, then you're in luck, as the APKs needed to get it up and running on some older devices are already available to download. All of this comes with some pretty big caveats, but we'll get to those in a second.

Firstly, if you do want to test out Bixby right now, you'll need a Samsung device running a version of Android Nougat. In our testing, we used an S7 Edge. You'll also need to download the two APKs in this XDA Developers thread for the S8 launcher and Bixby.

The first thing you'll need to do is ensure you have the S8 launcher installed - warning: at this point, you're about to lose your current home screen layout. If you care about such things, either back it up or don't proceed.

To install the S8 launcher, you'll need to side-load it, but you don't need root access. Just grab the file from XDA and install it on your device - it's worth pointing out that there's no guarantee that either of these APKs will work for your specific device and the particular build of Android you're using. 

Once successfully installed, you just need to install the other Bixby APK that you've already downloaded (or moved) across to your phone. What that results in, however, is your phone freezing and becoming unresponsive (as ours did). To fix this, you'll need to navigate to Settings > Applications > TouchWiz Home > Storage > Clear Data / Clear Cache to delete the existing home screen settings. Once you've done this, you should be all done, and a swipe to the left of your home screen will show the Flipboard-style Upday widget.

Bixby s7
It's possible to get Bixby up and running on non-S8 devices, but it's not very worthwhile right now.   / © ANDROIDPIT

Right now, there's only support for Cards shown by apps, which means no voice control (it only works with US English for now) and few features actually worth all the effort. We'd expect to see a full APK with the voice control functionality built into it in the near future. 

Opinion by Ben Woods
I can't wait to test Bixby
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Or you could just go ahead and pre-order an S8 or S8 Plus.

What do you want Bixby to do? Do you like the idea of a dedicated button? Let us know in the comments below. 

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  • le_wein 1 month ago Link to comment

    How about NO!

  • So if I want to call Adam, instead of pushing 3 buttons, I have to push button, swipe to enable Data and then press the extra button and say: "Bixby, call Adam"? lol Who came out with this name I still cant remember. Why not 'Genie'..pops out an fulfill your wishes. Yea, I'l buy S8 but I don't think I'll be using bixby! brrr

    • I have a better idea. Buy an S8, prise out the Bixby button, fry it in pork sauce and send it to the Samsung CEO's home address. Really, that stupid Bixby name is irritating enough. Add to that the pain of using it and watching it dial Jack and Jones. Damn.

  • ljhaye 2 months ago Link to comment

    How is this a good thing for Android? It causes further confusion and fragmentation within Android. An example of this is Samsung Pay vs Android Pay. Google needs to close Android and let Samsung push ahead on its own, with Tizen. Most Android users are more loyal to Samsung hardware than android software ( ex. Gear S2/3 vs Android wear). Once we see how competent each of these companies truly are independent of each other, I bet all the negative iPhone/Apple rhetoric will evaporate.

    • Well I don't think people will stay with samsung if they don't have Android devices, they will be left out of the Google play store and what will they have the galaxy store or tizen store? You will not have customizability for your device no Nova launcher for example, it will basically be a iphone that what you get from the factory is what you will be stuck with in my opinion.

      • ljhaye 2 months ago Link to comment

        I used to agree with that sentiment prior to the success of both Samsung Tizen Gear Watches an Samsung Pay. These two examples are being used by many in the Android community even without the ownership of a Samsung phone. A matter of fact they have hire adoption rates than Googles equivalent products. I think Bixby could spell the doom of Google Assistant on Android devices unless Google can improve its distribution channels.

      • Indeed but those are devices that are separate and not a mobile device that use apps from the play store. What I'm trying to say is I don't use the Nova app for example on my smart watch, and I doubt that tizen will allow such customizebility to allow 3rd party apps to customize your mobile device like Nova for example or it will take a while. You don't play games on your smart watch, games that are freely available in the google play store, thus on a smart watch it will be ok to use another OS to connect to your Android device, but if you don't have Android on your mobile then you will find it hard as tizen don't give you the options Android and Google does at this stage on a mobile device.

      •   6

        Please don't get it confused Samsung sold 302 million smartphones in 2016 worldwide. It's users are people who has invested in the Samsung ecosystem 150% and will gladly leave Android for Tizen. The Google Play Store isn't anything significant other playstore exist and are used by Samsung users just they use the Google playstore. At the end of the day Samsung is the ones who make the handsets people buy without those millions upon millions of customers the Android platform collectively becomes Windows or Blackberry if and when Samsung leaves. Google didn't create Android they bought it only after Samsung didn't want it. Tizen is based on Linux so it'll be more secure than android.

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