Following the untimely demise of the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung is looking to bounce back with its upcoming smartphone Galaxy S8. The next-gen flagship is rumored to feature an all-screen front, virtual home button, optical fingerprint sensor, an iris scanner, and a USB-C port that will replace the headphone jack. However, Samsung’s plan to include its own AI assistant in the Galaxy S8 may face resistance from none other than Google.
A 2014 agreement is at the core of the issue
In October, Samsung announced the acquisition of Viv, a next-gen AI assistant developed by the original creators of Siri. Viv is said to be able to write its own code to improve itself. The deal sparked speculations that the Galaxy S8 could be the first smartphone to feature Viv AI assistant. It will give Samsung an edge over rivals, and help differentiate its devices from other Android vendors.
However, Samsung might not be able to use Viv on the S8, thanks to a non-compete agreement it signed with Google in 2014, reports The Register. Samsung’s patent-sharing agreement with Google includes a non-compete provision which states that the Korean company cannot offer any Android services that compete against Google’s own services.
Viv would complete with Google Assistant
Viv on Galaxy S8 would compete with the Google Assistant, violating the agreement. Though Google Assistant is currently available only on the latest Google Pixel and Pixel XL devices, it will be extended to other devices in the coming months. Edison Investment Research analyst Richard Windsor said the non-compete agreement prohibits Samsung from making “significant software changes” to set its phones apart from the Android crowd.
It “leaves Viv out in the cold,” said Richard Windsor. Samsung plans to use it to make search and discovery more intelligent on its devices. Viv is a “very clever” assistant that can understand complex multiple questions as well as context. If Google forces Samsung to not use Viv on its smartphones, it could end up scaring other Android vendors.
Galaxy S8 may not arrive until April
The Galaxy S8 is expected to be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in February. But it may not be available in the market until April as Samsung plans to test the device more rigorously to avoid a Galaxy Note 7 like scenario. The S8 will reportedly feature the optical fingerprint sensor that Synaptics unveiled earlier this month. Synaptics’ FS9100 sits under the cover glass, and is scratchproof and waterproof.
The upcoming smartphone is expected to boast of the latest Bluetooth 5.0, which is twice as fast as Bluetooth 4.0. The Galaxy S8 is said to be the first smartphone to pack the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. Other features include a huge 4200mAh battery, 6GB RAM, and up to 256GB of internal storage.