Samsung to Launch Bixby SDK and API This Fall

CEO of Samsung’s mobile division, DJ Koh, told CNBC this week that the company plans to open up Bixby to third party developers this fall. Samsung will release a software developers kit (SDK) and an application programming interface in November at its annual Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new programs will allow third-parties to both design apps specifically for Bixby and also allow Bixby to be integrated in other apps. “Opening the ecosystem in November, then this baby (Bixby) will grow. So I do not want to see just six months or nine months performance, no. Because this is like a long journey; it’s just starting because with the new Bixby embedded in the Note 9, a new baby was born,” Koh told CNBC.

A New, Open Bixby

Koh is right that it has been a long journey for Bixby. The voice assistant has struggled since its debut in 2017 however, the new Bixby 2.0 demonstrated in August did seem smarter, understanding and maintaining context and remembers past behavior to make personalized suggestions. Opening Bixby 2.0 to third-party developers is an obvious next step to improve Bixby and make it smarter. Amazon and Google have taken a similar route to make their voice assistants more capable and in more devices.

Will It Be Enough?

But it could be too late for Samsung and Bixby. The problem is, the company promised too much, too soon with Bixby, alienating its own user base as a result. Samsung is one of the largest mobile device manufacturers in the world, but it shipped its flagship phone, the Galaxy S8 without English Bixby voice control. Problem is, Samsung phones run on Android, which also include the Google Assistant. Many customers complained that they could not map the dedicated Bixby button to the Google Assistant. And guess what? Even with Bixby 2.0, customers are still complaining about this same issue.

The release of an SDK and API for Bixby will definitely help improve the voice assistant and give it even more capabilities. But the real challenge Samsung will have is convincing its user base that Bixby should be their first choice when it comes to voice assistants, regardless of how many voice apps or integrations Bixby will have in the future. Their customers have already been burned by Bixby once. It is now the company’s job to demonstrate that Bixby 2.0 really is different. This time.

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