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Samsung has a legitimate reason to block Bixby button remapping, whether we like it or not


Last updated: July 14th, 2017 at 10:44 UTC+02:00

Most folks agree that the dedicated key for Bixby on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ is a nuisance. It’s not a nuisance because it gets in the way; well, it is, but the bigger reason is that at this point, Bixby doesn’t do anything useful for the vast majority of Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners. Ever since Samsung’s latest flagships were launched, many users have looked for a way to remap the Bixby button’s purpose to launching another application.

Quite a few apps allowing one to do so have cropped up on the Play Store, and Samsung has been trying its best to block the possibility of remapping the Bixby button. It’s something people don’t agree with, but I feel we should also look at the fact that Samsung has a legitimate reason to stop users from changing the purpose of the Bixby button.

Actually, there are a couple of reasons, but the biggest reason is that without that button firing up Bixby (even if it happens when we press the key accidentally, which happens all too often), Samsung has no way of making sure Bixby becomes a part of its consumers’ daily lives. An icon on the home screen won’t do it, and the home button is out of reach as Google mandates that a long press of the home button on every Android device should fire up Google Now, the search giant’s personal assistant.

Apple’s Siri has become synonymous with iPhones and iPads because long pressing the home button on an iPhone or iPad fires up Siri, ensuring that the service is always at the, well, service of the user. Apple does offer a way to completely turn off Siri, but there is no way to reassign the task of long pressing the home button on an iPhone to do anything else. Many users never venture into the device’s settings to turn such features off, which means Siri continues to be at the beck and call of users through the primary way of interaction on iOS devices.

The second important reason I believe Samsung needs to keep the Bixby button doing what it’s meant to be doing is to keep reminding users that it exists, something that will come in handy down the line when the company has developed and enabled voice commands for users outside South Korea. It’s taking time, but if you have seen videos of Bixby’s voice assistant in action, you have seen how handy it can be when you really must get things done on your Galaxy device using your voice.

Bixby can pretty much do everything that you can do by touch, something neither Google Now or Siri are capable of doing. It’s an important feature that Samsung will be pushing to its users in the coming months and years, but would it be of much use if people end up disabling the Bixby button and, therefore, rarely see Bixby on their devices?

Like others, I agree that right now, the Bixby button is a nuisance that gets in the way more often than anyone would like. Remapping it to do something else would be extremely useful, and there are still apps that let you repurpose that button to your requirement despite Samsung’s constant attemps to block these apps.

But let’s face it: Allowing users to do as they please with Bixby’s dedicated key isn’t in Samsung’s best interests, as there aren’t exactly a whole lot of ways that the company could make Bixby a regular part of our lives without that dedicated key. The Bixby key is here to stay, it’s here to get in the way when it can, and hopefully, it will make our lives better once Samsung figures how to get its voice functionality working for folks outside South Korea.

Good thing you can disable Bixby (and many other Samsung apps and services) using a couple of apps found on the Play Store, no root required.

Bixby BixbyGalaxy S8 PlusSamsung Galaxy S8
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