Steven Arkonovich and Spotify Win Bixby Developer and Capsule of the Year Samsung Galaxy Store Awards
Samsung has named Steven Arkonovich, the creator of Big Sky Weather, as Bixby developer of the year, and Spotify as Bixby Capsule of the year. Both were honored at the 2020 Best of Galaxy Store Awards hosted online in a live YouTube broadcast this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
The awards covered a gamut of software available on the Galaxy Store, including games, watch faces, wellness apps, and different themes used as interfaces on Galaxy devices. The Bixby section of the even only had the two categories of Capsule and developer. The superlatives used to describe the winners didn’t explicitly say what put them over the top, but some of the reasoning is fairly obvious. Spotify is an immensely popular streaming service on every platform it operates on and has become an integral part of most of Samsung’s tech ecosystem. That includes Bixby, which can carry out voice requests by users for specific playlists and artists.
Arkonovich, a Bixby Premier Developer, has worked at a similar integration level for Big Sky Weather for Bixby, comparable to its features on Alexa and Google Assistant. The Bixby version can tell users about current weather, near along-term forecasts, and map out the local weather based on the location of the user’s device or anywhere else it is asked about. The voice app also handles more specific questions, understanding natural language in queries about different weather conditions at specific times. Arkonovich, a professor of philosophy and humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, taught himself how to code to the point where he can discern how Bixby differs from Alexa or Google Assistant.
“The coding paradigm is, obviously, the main difference,” Arkonovich told Samsung for a blog post. “A lot of the effort goes into modeling your data instead of writing lines of code. Once you get used to this, it’s intuitive, and in fact, you end up with a smaller codebase than other platforms. This is a big difference, and in many ways, an advantage.”
The awards come right as Samsung has begun revamping Bixby with a new, simplified interface and adding new features. The virtual assistant runs more discreetly on Galaxy smartphones, for instance. It will also suggest commands based on popular trends or track what a user has done before and provide ideas for things to do with Bixby that they might not realize are available. The recognition of Bixby at the awards also further refutes rumors that Samsung planned to drop Bixby in favor of Google Assistant. Samsung shutting down Bixby Vision and reassigning the Bixby developer marketing team to other areas at the end of September and the July departure of Adam Cheyer, Viv Labs co-founder, and Samsung vice president leading Bixby development raised a lot of eyebrows, but the company’s official moves continue to push back on the idea. Bixby recently expanded to older Galaxy smartphones that had previously used the now-shuttered S Voice digital assistant added celebrity voices. Combined with Bixby’s integration of Netflix and the new Galaxy Buds Live, bean-shaped earbuds built to take advantage of Bixby, there’s a long list of reasons to think Samsung will be giving more Bixby awards next year.