Samsung is preparing to take another iterative step forward and kill off support for its Bixby assistant on older handsets. That's according to insider sources reportedly indicating that Samsung is specifically doing away with Bixby Voice on Android Nougat and Oreo phones and tablets.
The list of devices that would entail, stemming back to the first launch of Bixby in 2017, is fairly long. But some of Samsung's most popular past heavy-hitters are included. For example, the company is bringing down the ax on the Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S8 Active, Galaxy Note 8 and 2018 edition Galaxy A9.
The sole holdout in that range of gadgets is the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, even where owners have yet to move on from Android 8.1 Oreo to Android 9 Pie. Support for older devices on either Android Nougat, Oreo, or older, will be officially closed out on January 1, 2020.
This isn't a total surprise
The shift here ties almost directly into Samsung's continued shift away from older variants of Android. It's no easy task for Samsung to keep up with updates on its wide portfolio of devices. The launch of Android 10 only strains the effort further. With newer Samsung handsets and those updating to the latest OS, Bixby 2.0 also becomes a factor.
Bixby 2.0 was and is an enormous step away from the original Samsung assistant, extending further from any individual device and to be more like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. With its introduction back in 2018, Samsung effectively split its support for Bixby into two categories. That's those devices that would receive Bixby 2.0 and those that wouldn't.
The step multiplies Samsung's effort requirement since now it's supporting a slew of devices and OS versions as well as versions of an AI digital assistant. Not only has Bixby 2.0 moved to operate more like a full-blown virtual AI assistant. It's also become more natural in terms of interactions.
In the interim, Samsung has continued to make things better. The company has consistently added new functionality, new features, and new partners to the mix since opening up Bixby for third-parties. So it makes some sense for Samsung to kill support for the older version of Bixby at some point.
Key things that will no longer work on those older phones are Bixby Voice and Bixby Briefing.
The change probably doesn't affect you anyway
Now, the move away from Android Nougat and Android Oreo most likely won't affect the overwhelming majority of Samsung users. The fact that the latter version of the OS launched back in 2017 isn't the only culprit either. While that allowed plenty of space for users to move to newer devices and there's still more time before the January 1 end date.
The biggest culprit regarding why this won't likely affect many users might be Bixby itself.
The service has never been among the most popular voice assistants, even among Samsung fans. In fact, after a bit of blowback about dedicated Bixby hardware, the company moved to allow customers to remap those keys with the Samsung Galaxy S10 series.
In general, although Bixby is getting better at a rapid clip, users just haven't used it much. For those that have, it's going to be a good idea to migrate to Android 9 Pie if that firmware update is available. Failing that, buying a newer device is going to be the only option for now.