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Samsung opens its Bixby assistant to developers

Samsung has been suffering through a lot of catch-up in the voice assistant race, but at its annual developer conference the company placed a major emphasis on how its expanding the scale and effectiveness of its Bixby assistant. The company announced that Bixby would be coming to more devices and more languages with third-party developers finally gaining access to building functionality for the AI assistant. For the first time we are opening Bixby to all of you, our developers, Samsung EVP Eui-Suk Chung announced onstage. The company is pledging to bring the assistant to watches, refrigerators, tablets, washing machines and more, and in the coming months will be adding support for five additional languages. While these promises seemed to sit a bit further down the line, the company was ready to talk about their Bixby developer kit during the keynote. The company announced the release of the Bixby Developer Studio, a set of dev tools thats way ahead of the other guys, Viv Labs CEO/ Siri co-founder Dag Kittlaus told the crowd. The company will also be introducing Bixby Marketplace, a home for users to discover the new functionality of their voice assistant. Bixby may have a long road ahead to catch up with other companies, but third-party integrations are something that none of the major voice assistant platforms have nailed. If Samsung can continue to invest in the platform and court developers with sophisticated tools, they may have better luck in gaining third-party integrations that feel more ancillary.

Bixby will speak German, French, Italian, and Spanish by 2019

Bixby, Samsungs multi-platform voice assistant, will support German, French, Italian, and Spanish by the end of the year. Also forthcoming? A store for third-party apps — capsules, in Samsungs vernacular — called Bixby Marketplace. Game-changing technologies … are now commercially available. Breakthrough AI capabilities that seemed impossible are now within reach, DJ Koh, president of Samsungs mobile communications business said onstage at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco today. Our shared challenge is to use these shared breakthroughs from now into next. The progress update comes months after Samsung formally launched Bixby 2.0, an improved version of its digital assistant, alongside the Galaxy Note9. It gave developers greater control and customization over the way Bixby interacts with in-app interfaces and set the stage for deep integration of Viv, the technology platform Samsung acquired in 2016. In August, Samsung announced that Bixbys voice smarts have expanded to more than 200 markets globally, including Canada, the U.K., Australia, and South Africa. But despite the recent progress, Bixby is lagging behind its rival assistants, including Apples Siri, which is conversant in 21 tongues (not including regional variants); Microsofts Cortana, which can speak eight languages; and Googles Assistant, which as of this summer will be able to converse in five languages, with another four expected by the end of the year. Amazons Alexa currently only supports U.S. and U.K. English, in addition to German, Spanish, and a handful of others. The latest version of Bixby has better natural language processing, faster response times, and built-in noise reduction tech. Its also more conversational; if you ask it about upcoming concerts over Labor Day weekend, for example, itll remember the date range for future searches. Bixby is at the heart of the Galaxy Home, Samsungs upcoming smart speaker that will compete with the likes of Apples HomePod, Amazons Echo lineup, and the Google Home. Like its competitors, the Galaxy Home can play music, control smart home devices, and seamlessly switch music between supported smartphones, televisions, and entertainment systems. And it boasts premium hardware, including AKG speakers and an omnidirectional microphone array. Samsungs soon-to-be-released smart speaker isnt the only Bixby-powered device in its portfolio. In a bid to expand the voice assistants footprint, Samsung late last year announced that it would make Bixby available on a variety of devices — namely Samsungs Smart TV and Family Hub refrigerator product lineups. It also unveiled Project Ambiance, a prototype dongle with a chip and microphone that can be added to speakers or TVs.