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Samsung opens Bixby to third-party apps and devices

Samsung is going to start letting app developers plug into Bixby, and hardware companies will be able to build the voice assistant into their products, too. In the year-and-a-half since Bixby launched, Samsung has already brought the assistant to phones, fridges, TVs, and more, but theyve all been Samsungs own devices. With todays news, other companies will be able to start building it into their own hardware as well, either as an alternative to Amazons Alexa and Googles Assistant — or, more likely, as an additional option for users who want to live in Samsungs ecosystem. Consumers may have more reason to embrace Bixby in the future, too, since third party developers will start being able to build services that plug into it. Its not entirely clear what to expect or what theyll look like — Samsung showed a demo of Bixby pulling up the various interfaces youd need to book a hotel stay — but Samsung is promising to make Bixby so open that developers will be able to make anything that Samsung itself could. Dag Kittlaus, CEO of Samsung-owned Viv Labs, says its the most powerful assistant toolkit ever made. Way ahead of the other guys, Kittlaus says. And its not even close. Samsung also plans to launch Bixby in a few new languages in the coming months, including German, Italian, and French. Itll also launch Spanish localized for Spain and English localized for the UK; those two languages are already available, but only with US localization. Smart assistants as a whole still arent all that smart, but Bixby in particular has been seen as among the weaker options. It was criticized at launch, and owners of some of Samsungs newest phones still complain about a dedicated Bixby button that they cant remap. Samsung is moving quickly — much quicker than Apple, for instance — to build out what Bixby is capable of doing by granting deep access to third parties. Its not clear how itll distribute these third-party Bixby features or how itll ensure that theyre safe and functional. But if it works out, Bixby could start looking a lot more like Alexa, which has more than 50,000 third-party skills.

Samsung opens Bixby assistant to developers

It's also launching in five European languages. Samsung is widening Bixby's reach in a big way. The company is opening its AI assistant to developers, giving them the power to build their own Bixby-based apps. A Bixby Marketplace will even help developers make money from the intelligent companion. There will be a Bixby Developer Studio tool for writing Bixby-friendly code. The company is also expanding just where you can use Bixby. It's introducing support for five European languages, including British English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. While that sounds like a simple addition, it's absolutely crucial to the company's plans. Bixby-enabled devices like the Galaxy Home and smart fridges can't be truly global devices if they're only available in a handful of countries.