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Google could force Samsung to ditch one of the Galaxy S8’s most exciting new features

Published Dec 13th, 2016 2:03PM EST

Next year’s Galaxy S8 is going to include a variety of new features for the Galaxy S family, including a brand new design as well as new software tricks. The unofficial features change log includes an all-screen design, better AMOLED display technology, a fingerprint sensor embedded in the screen, a courageous USB-C port that will replace the traditional headphone jack, an iris scanner, a 10nm processor, more RAM, an autofocus selfie cam, and a virtual assistant that will compete with similar products like Siri and Alexa. Can you guess which one of these features might not make it into the Galaxy S8 because of Google?

Not too long ago, Samsung acquired the company behind Viv, a virtual personal assistant that’s expected to find a home in next year’s Galaxy S8. The voice assistant responds to queries like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana. Interestingly, one of the co-founders of the company that Samsung purchased also co-developed Siri for Apple, so Siri and Viv would be siblings of sorts.

But The Register points out that Samsung might not be able to use Viv’s personal assistant because it competes directly with a Google voice service that should be available soon on Android. That’s Google’s search service, whether it’s called Google Now, Google Assistant or whatever else.

According to analysts, Samsung is in a tight spot right now. The company is looking to differentiate its phones and make them great again following the untimely fate of the Galaxy Note 7. But a patent sharing deal the company signed with Google in 2014 might prevent Samsung from using Viv on the Galaxy S8 and other devices next year.

“This leaves Viv out in the cold, and it appears that Samsung aims to use it as part of making search and discovery on the device more intelligent, which is something Google Assistant does not really do,” Edison Investment Research analyst Richard Windsor explained. “Viv has been demonstrated as a very clever assistant that understands complex multipart questions as well as context, but Samsung will be unable to do anything meaningful with this functionality on Android devices.”

On the other hand, an angle the analyst didn’t address is that Google wouldn’t look very good forcing Samsung to ditch Viv. News of Google preventing partners from competing against Android core features would be difficult to dodge.

That said, there’s nothing set in stone about the Galaxy S8 at this point. Samsung is reportedly being extra careful with the handset following the Galaxy Note 7 recall. The new Galaxy S flagship should be unveiled in late February and hit markets in the following months.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.