Even though Samsung and Google have partnered on the Android operating system, both the companies compete on multiple fronts. Google’s Pixel series directly takes on the Samsung’s Galaxy lineup. For years, Samsung has been packing their suite of apps with Galaxy smartphones. Samsung’s approach is to replace every Google app with its version. That also stands true with the rivalry between Bixby Home and Google Now.
Reviewers always criticized Samsung for such behavior. However, I’m fine with it. Some of Samsung apps, such as Gallery, Internet, Health, Samsung Pay, and Calendar, are superior to Google counterparts.
When Google introduced Google Now feed for Android smartphones, Samsung quickly replaced it with Flipboard magazine.
With the introduction of Galaxy S8 series, the company announced its ambitious plans with Bixby voice assistant. Simultaneously, Samsung ditched Flipboard in favor of Bixby Home, a personalized feed menu designed explicitly for user behavior.
Today, every Galaxy smartphone houses Bixby Home by default. Thankfully, you can disable it too. And with the help of third-party launchers, you can switch back to Google Now. That might make you wonder — is it worth the effort?
In this post, we shall compare Bixby Home and Google Now on various fronts, including their strength and weaknesses. Let’s jump in.
As you might expect, the Bixby feed is only available on Galaxy smartphones. Google Now's feed is accessible on every Android smartphone.
The companies like OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Huawei have replaced it with their take. You can switch back to Google Now with the help of third-party launchers like Nova and Action.
Both the apps have adopted rounded tab UI that matches with today’s device corners. The curvature is more aggressive on Bixby feed but looks fine.
Swipe left, and the Bixby home is ready to serve you. The animations are smooth, and everything looks neatly organized.
Tap on the three-dot menu above, and you can change every setting of Bixby and Samsung account.
You can scroll back to the bottom of the UI and change/remove widgets from the list.
Google has made some tweaks to the default UI. Now it shows the news integration by default. You can see the weather info on front.
Tap on the profile icon, and one can see/change every detail of the app. You can see search activity, reminders, customize your interests, and more.
Both feed UIs support a dark theme, which is must have for me.
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News Integration and Ads
As always, Google Now is centered towards news integration. The app shows the relevant articles based on your search history and interests. You can also follow certain topics to get recommendations based on it.
Google also asks you if the suggested card is relevant and lets you unfollow specific categories and types of articles.
Tap on the three-dot menu to see the details. You can also select the pin icon and let the service show you more or less content like that.
Google has started rolling out sponsored content in the feed menu. I am yet to see it on my timeline.
Samsung took help from old partner Flipboard and added the dedicated tab for it. Tap on a search for topics, and you can customize the interests from the settings menu.
The Korean company is more aggressive with ads. The only reason why I frequently disable Bixby home.
There are dedicated and unnecessary tabs for GIPHY, UC News, some games, and more. I can understand its existence on entry-level smartphones but not on a $1000 device.
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Tap on the updates tab, and it will show the relevant information such as weather details, the ability to add events, reminders, suggested portfolio, Google Lens, and more.
You can even access the Google Assistant or type a query. The menu suggests the recent activity based on your location details.
Bixby is taking more of a local approach here. You can integrate app widgets right into the list. It also lets you add third-party integration such as Twitter trends, YouTube recommendations, sports widget, and more.
You can add shortcut widgets from Samsung’s apps too. It's a neat way to access the device details with one tap. You can view Samsung Health data, see recently visited webpages, glance over recent emails and photos and more.
Bixby Command vs. Google Now
Samsung will never catch-up Google at voice recognition and fetching out information from the web. And the company knows that. That’s why it has taken a local approach here.
Bixby commands let you set short phrases and add rules based on that. You utter ‘Hey Bixby, I’m going out’ phrase, and it will set media volume to 80%, turn off Wi-Fi, and switch on Bluetooth for easy Android Auto pairing. All that will happen only if you have specified those triggers on saying that particular phrase.
Here is how I use it. Every night, I say 'Good Night' to Bixby, and it will turn off Wi-Fi, mobile data, Bluetooth, and set the alarm for morning hours. Samsung has nailed the local automation here.
You can also use Google Assistant from any Samsung device, but the integration won't be the same as the Google Feed.
Google has integrated Google Lens, voice search, and the ability to type queries from the assistant menu. As expected, it works great in delivering useful information from the web. But it lacks on-device automation.
For example, Bixby can update the apps from the Play Store, but Google Assistant can't.
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Switch From Bixby Or Not
Here is the thing. Bixby is great at local customization and automation. But it’s a hit and miss with news integration and ads. Google has nailed the news section but lacks the on-device customization.
Next Up: Do you know you can change the default language in the Google feed menu? Read the post below to find out more details.