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Samsung opens Bixby to third-party developers

Samsung today announced the launch of a toolkit for businesses and third-party developers to create voice apps compatible with intelligent assistant Bixby. The Bixby Developer Center will allow developers to create Bixby voice apps using AI-powered software to understand when to apply machine learning to automate tasks. Bixby is also expanding to speak Spanish, German, Italian, and French next year. The assistant currently only speaks English and Korean. A Bixby Marketplace is also in the works to sell and promote the work of third-party developers. Also today Samsung unveiled its first foldable smartphone the Infinity Flex, an API for developers to make smart TV apps with Bixby, and a series of updates for SmartThings, Samsungs IoT app. The announcements were made onstage at the Samsung Developer Conference being held November 7 and 8 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.  The launch of Bixby Developer Studio was highly anticipated following comments by Samsung mobile division CEO DJ Koh to CNBC in September. Bixby is available in the Samsung S8 and S9 smartphones, smart televisions, the Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator, and soon in the Galaxy Home smart speaker. Samsung has some catching up to do to create a third-party ecosystem around its intelligent assistant, and new features for Bixby was a main topic during the keynote speech at SDC. By comparison, more than 50,000 skills made primarily with the Alexa Skills Kit are in the Alexa Skills Store, and hundreds of Google Assistant actions have been made with Dialogflow or the Actions on Google platform since 2016. In addition to being slow to build a third-party ecosystem, Bixby, which first became available in early 2017, has been generally considered far behind competitors like Amazons Alexa and Google Assistant in its set of features and capabilities. However, as the maker of 500 million devices a year, Samsung is one of the largest home appliance makers on the planet, and its definition of success may differ greatly from other tech companies deploying AI assistants. Since launch, Bixby has expanded to include things like Bixby Vision for visual search and Bixby Makeup, which lets you try on makeup using augmented reality. The second iteration of Bixby, dubbed Bixby 2.0, made its debut one year ago at SDC and was first included in Galaxy Note9. As intelligent assistants continue to ascend to a more prominent part of their day, consumers will do what they always do: Theyll find their favorites and theyll stick with them, Kittlaus said. As long as those favorites continue to deliver value they become the default. Bixby 2.0 is made to understand context, deep link with apps, remember your preferences, and serve as part of Samsungs effort to move from a content-centric world to a context-centric world, as Samsung head of product innovation  Yoon C. Lee recently told VentureBeat. Bixby 2.0 builds upon the intelligence of Viv Labs, a company created by Siri cofounders Adam Cheyer and Dag Kittlaus that Samsung acquired in 2017 for a reported $215 million. More to come

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.