Let’s be honest for a second, Bixby is less capable than both Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. It doesn’t support anywhere near as many smart home devices and it often fails to answer even basic general knowledge questions. Now, I’m not saying it’s all bad – since Bixby has some cool features, such as its ability to do everything on a smartphone that you could do with touch but through voice – but it’s definitely not the smart assistant most users will want in their homes right now. Thankfully, that could be set to change, as for the first time ever Samsung has opened up its Bixby voice assistant to developers.
Announced at the 2018 Samsung Developer Conference, the Bixby Developer Center is a new collection of tools that will allow developers to create what Samsung is calling ‘Bixby Capsules’. These are essentially the same as Alexa’s Skills and the Google Assistant’s Actions, in that they bring new features and services to the Bixby AI. That brings the potential to control countless smart home devices, much like other AIs currently on the market.
Smart home control has been a big battleground for the smart assistant developers, with Amazon having constantly led the pack, but with Google quickly catching up. It’s also important for the custom installation market, with the likes of Crestron and Control4 quick to add support for the various voice assistants.
Bixby has technically been able to control quite a number of smart home devices for quite some time, although they had to be connected to the SmartThings platform. The Bixby Developer Center should open the platform up a bit more, although there’s a long path ahead if Samsung has any hope of catching up.
While the Bixby Developer Center is now open to developers, Bixby Marketplace won’t be available to share creations with consumers until 2019. When it does launch, the Capsules will be made available wherever Bixby can be found – meaning mobile, smart speaker, smart fridges and TV.
Expansion of Support
Bixby isn’t just getting new developer tools, but Samsung is also supporting new languages too. The five new languages are British English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, which should go some way at making Bixby understand its users.
Samsung has the advantage of being the most popular manufacturer in various sectors where its Bixby could be employed. It’s the world’s largest maker of smartphones, while it’s also leading in the TV market – where it has already rolled out its Bixby smart assistant. Granted, Amazon and Google have a huge head start against Samsung, but that doesn’t mean Bixby should be counted out.