Samsung is set to turn to Google and its voice assistant solution to bolster the company's TV product lines in 2019, according to Variety who in turn credits "sources familiar with the company's plans" for the details. This would mark a significant move for the industry considering how prolific Samsung is in terms of smart TV sales, and its dependence up until now on its own voice assistant solution, Bixby.
CES announcement coming
The report picks up on the likelihood of the partnership between Samsung and Google being announced during CES 2019 in January. This would make sense as typically speaking a number of companies, including Samsung, use this particular event to announce their respective TV products for the year ahead. This also will likely mean that although the announcement will come in January, actual availability of Google Assistant on Samsung TVs might not arrive until later in the year.
Google Assistant support gaining in appeal
The last year has seen a number of device makers, and a greater number of products arriving with Google Assistant support included. In fact, CES 2018 was largely dominated by Google Assistant and it seems that level of dominance is now starting to pay off as with Samsung now seemingly on board, Google's Assistant will automatically gain access to a greater number of users just by becoming available on Samsung TVs.
However, it remains to be seen just how integrated Google Assistant will be in this case, with the report likening the expected experience to that on offer with LG TVs. Which suggest that although basic and mid-level commands will be available, the more advanced integration will not be on offer. This is likely by design to ensure Samsung remains in greater control of the overall experience without its product becoming too dependent on Google Assistant.
What does this mean for Bixby?
Samsung has its own Assistant-like solution, Bixby. However, and in spite of the company pushing the use of Bixby on a variety of its products, Samsung's solution is far more limited in comparison to Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. This is even more true at the TV level. If the announcement comes as now reported, it could be interpreted by some as evidence of Samsung starting to lose interest in its own solution, or at the very least – giving in to a superior product. Although what is far more likely to be the case it this will represent a short-term solution by Samsung, with the company still as committed to using its own solution in the long-term.
By Samsung's own standards, Bixby is still in the earlier stages of development and it is expected the company will continue to invest in the platform as it further looks to add support and turn it into a more robust and competitive solution. Samsung only recently started adding Bixby to its TVs and plans to release its recently announced Bixby speaker in the near future. In addition, it's expected the company's AI solution will gain in its abilities as more developers start to support it – an option that only started to become available last month. So there's no doubt Samsung is completely intent on improving and using its own solution in the future. In the meantime, however, Samsung does need to ensure its current products are sufficiently supported at the voice assistant level to ensure customers are getting the product they want – and one that remains competitive with other brands. This is where the Google Assistant support will pay dividends for Samsung as it will immediately open up the option for potential buyers to enjoy a greater and more varied level of support.
Improved audio support also coming
In addition to Google Assistant support, the report also states these new TVs will come with better audio quality than before. The report not only refers to the same sources for this information, but also a number of patents that have been spotted recently which further support the improved audio suggestion. In short, it would seem Samsung TVs in 2019 will utilize spacial audio where the TVs become more aware of their surroundings and respond in kind to ensure the listening experience is as good as it can be within each room/space. This is a technology that's become prevalent in 2018 and one that's used by Google in its Home Max speaker. In fact, it is the main selling point with Home Max and so in the same sense will likely be one of the main selling points used by Samsung for its TVs in 2019 – along with Google Assistant support.