Samsung announce yesterday at the Developer Conference in San Francisco that the Bixby platform was open to developers. The Bixby developer Studio was until so far in private beta. Nersa my cofounder at VoiceFirst Labs and I were lucky enough to be in the beta program and contest for the creation of the first capsules (Bixby voice app). I heard that name might change and I’m happy for it, capsule is definitely not a good name for a voice app.
We developed two capsules, with the intention to understand the platform, one for number facts and the other for getting episodes of this show. You heard correctly, VoiceFirst Weekly flash briefing is already available in Bixby, yay!
Experience creating for Bixby
The developer experience still fills a little raw, they clearly need polishing in the platform with the documentation and such, I feel they are in a rush to open up the platform, with the clock ticking.
The capsules were created in a weekend or less, after watching some of the videos provided and then following the documentation. It means it’s relatively straightforward to start creating something for the platform. And the documentation geared towards developers, but we found it pretty useful.
The good, the bad and the ugly
The good part about the platform is the ability to remember an answer or similar answers by instruction, that’s a pretty sweet deal that in short means you don’t need to put all the utterances for an intent. It learns. I really liked that. The way you build the capsule itself It’s also a different way to develop voice apps compared to Alexa or Google Assistant. The IDE was decent enough, it felt smooth.
The bad is the maturity of the platform. Is definitely not at the level of the likes by Amazon or Google.
The ugly, as far as we could see, and we tried, the platform is more focused towards visual interfaces, and it does not reproduce audios. As we were trying to get the audios of the show reproduced directly by Bixby – my expectation was that it was going to be similar to the cards in Google Assistant – we quickly hit a wall. I’m sure they are gonna correct that, but at this point it feels a little outdated already.
Bixby platform and the developer studio might be a game changer in the smart assistants race. The Bixby team have a different, novel idea on how an assistant should behave and I’m expecting the competition to only be good for the voice ecosystem overall.
If this catches up, Samsung will have the “phone advantage”, in their case it’s not only phones but all kind of appliances. The possibility to instantly have their platform on all this devices, without having to convince users to buy a smart speaker. Although they did released the Galaxy Home a couple of months ago, and for sure the whole Bixby ecosystem will work there as well. All in all, exciting times ahead.
This is VoiceFirst weekly flash briefing. My name is Mari, as always you can find me on Twitter as @voicefirstlabs or Instagram as @voicefirstweekly. You have a great day and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.
P.S We will be at the Developer Conference today during the announcement of the capsules contest winners. Expect live updates on Twitter.