Samsung will let owners of its latest Galaxy smartphones disable the “Bixby” button, the dedicated button for the company’s smart voice assistant, according to SamMobile.
Some Galaxy phones that come with the Bixby button, including the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8, are receiving updates that will let owners disable the Bixby button. However, SamMobile reported that the update rollout process seems random, as some devices received the relevant update and some have not.
I just updated BI’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 review units to the latest software, and both devices offer the option to prevent Bixby Home from opening when I press the Bixby button. With that said, you can still swipe from the left edge of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 to bring up Bixby Home.
If you haven’t disabled Bixby Voice, the voice-activated portion of the Bixby smart assistant, it will continue to function as normal when you long-press the Bixby button. You can disable Bixby Voice by going into Settings from Bixby Home. After you disable Bixby Voice, the Bixby button will be fully disabled and won’t do anything at all.
Disabling Bixby Home and Voice from opening when you press the Bixby button will prevent frustrations when a user accidentally presses Bixby button instead of the volume button, which is found on the same side of the devices as the Bixby button.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the new update will let Galaxy S8 and Note 8 owners change what the Bixby button does, whether the user wants the button to open a specific app, setting, or feature. The new setting only lets you disable or re-enable the Bixby smart voice assistant — it doesn’t let you reconfigure it.
Infamously, Bixby wasn’t ready at Galaxy S8’s launch. Instead, the button brought up the Bixby Home page, which shows you information like your upcoming calendar events, weather, and news. Understandably, some users wanted to “remap,” or reconfigure, the button to do something else, but Samsung didn’t — and still doesn’t — offer that option.
The necessity for Samsung’s Bixby is also questionable. Every recent Android phone can now run Google Assistant, Google’s own voice-activated smart assistant, which works a lot better than Bixby. The only thing that Bixby does differently is allow you to change every setting on the phone, like the screen brightness or volume, using your voice. But even that special feature doesn’t really impress in day-to-day use.
On top of that, having both Bixby and Google Assistant on a device can lead to confusion as to which smart assistant to use and when. It’s a recurring problem with Android phones made by companies other than Google, where the third-party phone makers feel the urge to add their own duplicate apps on top of Google’s own Android apps. For example, you can get two email apps, message apps, photo galleries, and web browsers. Now, you have two competing smart assistants on the same phone, but at least now you can completely turn off one of them.