Samsung Bixby ‘Marketplace’ With ‘Capsules’ Launched On Galaxy Store To Take On Amazon Alexa Skills And Push Integrations

Samsung has officially launched its new Bixby Marketplace. The digital store will not be offering apps for Samsung devices. Instead, the marketplace is solely meant for pushing Bixby integrations. Essentially, the virtual store appears to be an attempt to take on Amazon Alexa. Strangely though, the Bixby marketplace is yet to include even a small percentage of “Skills” that Amazon’s Alexa offers. Interestingly, against Amazon Alexa’s Skills, Samsung is pitting ‘Capsules’ for Bixby.

Samsung revealed its Bixby Marketplace, an online repository supposed to house ‘Capsules’. These are essentially small software modules that are ready to be integrated with Samsung’s Bixby, a rival to Amazon Alexa directly, and to Apple’s Siri, Google’s virtual assistant indirectly. Samsung’s Bixby has rarely enjoyed the adoption that all its rivals have achieved over the course of last year. Sadly, the new dedicated marketplace that houses added and improved functionality modules or Capsules is still quite sparsely populated.

At the time of reporting there only a few handful new installable third-party Capsules. Although Samsung insists the marketplace is new, most of the Capsules appear to be quite old. Moreover, a quick analysis clearly indicates Samsung has attempted to pass off previous Bixby integrations as new. In other words, the Capsules seem like repackaged modules. Needless to add, Samsung, which is looking to boost the adoption of its own indigenous, AI-driven virtual assistant, could have worked to add several more new Capsules that rival Amazon Alexa’s Skills.

How To Enable Samsung Bixby Marketplace On A Samsung Smartphone

It is quite obvious that Samsung Bixby is software that is and always will remain exclusive to Samsung smartphones. For all other Android devices, Google has already deployed its own iteration that is simply called a virtual assistant. Incidentally, the majority of Samsung’s smartphones run on Google’s Android and do have access to the search giant’s software platform. Still, Samsung has worked hard to develop its own.

Samsung devices that have the Bixby App installed on them can enable the new Bixby Marketplace. Users have to merely update their Bixby App from the Samsung Galaxy Store. The latest updated version of the app is tagged 2.1.23.18 and was released on June 27, 2019. Merely updating the app should enable access to the Bixby Marketplace.

Once downloaded, using the Bixby Marketplace to download software modules called Capsules is fairly simple. Users have to merely open Bixby. There are two ways to access the platform. Users can either trigger Bixby using the dedicated Bixby key that quite a few Samsung smartphones have or tap the Bixby app icon. Once started, users have to swipe or tap their way into the Bixby Marketplace. Samsung has created an additional tab within the Bixby app that lets users access the Capsules.

What Are Capsules For Samsung Bixby?

Capsules are essentially standalone Bixby integrations. Users can browse the Bixby marketplace either randomly, select a particular category or simply view a few curated lists. These Capsules work much like Alexa Skills. In other words, they provide extra functionality or integration into third-party services.

The process to enable Capsules may seem rather odd and cumbersome. But this is because of the very nature of the software modules which were supposed to be tightly integrated within the Bixby interface from the first day. Surprisingly, despite the delay, Samsung Bixby Marketplace is launching with very little in it that can be considered new. In other words, users looking for new integrations won’t find anything outside preexisting or pre-enabled integrations. This can be verified from the fact that most Capsules don’t have an “add” button, just a grayed out “remove” button. When Android Police conducted an informal audit of Bixby Marketplace they figured out there could be eight third-party Capsules users can “add” in the entire market.

Some of the most notable mentions in the Bixby Marketplace include Ticketmaster, Google Maps, Yelp, Uber, and NPR. Interestingly, they may appear new. However, each of these platforms has been previously integrated within Bixby quite some time back. In other words, the new Capsules bearing the names of popular services and platforms are essentially repackaged versions of former integrations.

Samsung’s Bixby Yet To Catch Up To Google’s Virtual Assistant?

It is rather interesting to note that majority of the genuinely new third-party services seem to require direct invocation by name to work. In other words, in its current iteration, the Bixby Capsules are merely virtual bridges that connect the users’ voice commands to desired actions on the third-party apps. Essentially, Samsung Bixby is still at the nascent stage wherein users can use it to merely to “tell X to do Y”.

In all, there are somewhere close to 60 Capsules in the Bixby Marketplace. These are a mixture of mostly old integrations and few genuinely new functionalities. Needless to add, this is nothing in comparison to Amazon Alexa. At the last count, Amazon Alexa had more than 80,000 skills and counting. Moreover, many users have had a lot of success in working with Alexa and its skills.

In Samsung’s defense, the Bixby Capsules marketplace is quite new. In fact, Samsung’s virtual assistant itself is relatively a very late entrant into a world dominated by Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google’s virtual assistant. The marketplace and the capsules could mature in the near future. Samsung could easily build more Capsules and urge developers to offer their own creations. But for that to happen, the Bixby platform itself has to gain traction.


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