Bixby, Samsung's answer to Siri, will not have key feature ready before Galaxy S8 global launch

The new Samsung S8 is on display for the press after a news conference in New York on March 29, 2017.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Samsung's voice-controlled virtual assistant Bixby — marketed as one the highlights in the feature-rich Galaxy S8 handsets — will not be fully ready when the company begins to globally ship the new phones later this month.

In a statement to CNBC, Samsung said the voice portion of the virtual assistant will be available to stateside customers only in spring, likely following a software update.

"Key features of Bixby, including Vision, Home and Reminder, will be available with the global launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 on April 21," the statement said. "Bixby Voice will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 later this spring."

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources, reported that internal tests conducted at Samsung revealed Bixby's voice recognition performance in English lagged behind its form in Korean. The Journal said Samsung executives were still discussing on when to make Bixby available in English.

Samsung introduced the world to Bixby last month. At the launch of the Galaxy S8, Samsung showed what the program can do. For instance, users can take a picture and Bixby can recognize it and provide information on it.

It can handle complex requests such as finding all the pictures in a user's photo album taken at a particular geographical location. Bixby will also be able to learn a user's routine and pull the most important information and tasks from different apps onto a single screen.

Competition in the virtual assistant space is intense as Bixby will be up against the likes of Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant, which is native to the Android operating platform that will run on the Galaxy S8 handsets.

— CNBC's Arjun Kharpal and Todd Haselton contributed to this report.