Samsung Ups Bixby’s Place in SmartThings Connected Device Ecosystem
Samsung is building up Bixby’s role within its SmartThings ecosystem of connected devices. The tech giant unveiled the new Bixby Home Studio at its SDCC event this week, which lets developers create and customize SmartThings experiences with the voice assistant, both on-device and through the cloud. Bixby’s role on Samsung phones will also see some expansion, including a new receptionist role.
The growing SmartThings platform requires connecting and coordinating various devices and functions. Samsung is leveraging Bixby to handle the myriad forms this control takes. That includes operating as an on-device AI to run a device without linking to the internet, as well as inter-device communication over the cloud. The biggest news was the release of Bixby Home Studio, a developer tool for the voice assistant that streamlines the creation of custom SmartThings experiences. Samsung is also widening Bixby’s geographic reach on the platform by adding Latin American Spanish to the voice assistant’s language options beginning next month.
“Bixby and SmartThings work together seamlessly to bring voice experiences to all SmartThings connected devices,” Bixby Lab head Anil Yadav said at the event. “With Bixby Home Studio, you can create experiences that span multiple devices and respond more intuitively to user commands. For example, if you ask Bixby to turn on your air conditioner, Bixby can check if you have any windows open and let you know to close them, saving energy.”
Samsung’s deep connection with Google’s smart home system wasn’t ignored at the event, though the rumors of Google Assistant absorbing Bixby appear to have faded quite a bit. The long-promised integration of SmartThings with the Matter smart home standard will happen soon, making it easier to onboard supporting devices into either SmartThings or Google Home. Matter is quickly becoming a widely popular model for ensuring customers aren’t stuck with an isolated smart device limited to a single voice assistant or other AI, but Google and Samsung have worked particularly closely together to meld their software protocols.
Bixby’s customized operations on Samsung phones are getting their own revision. The new One UI 5 revamps the Bixby Routines feature as Modes and Routines, which is essentially an improved version of the Bixby Routines system for adapting the phone to an individual’s use. The Bixby name is sticking around for the new Bixby Text Call feature. Much like Google Assistant on Pixel phones, Bixby Text Call has the AI answer a phone call on behalf of the user, taking a message and transcribing the conversation for them. Bixby Text Call only works in Korean currently, but English will be an option next year.