Samsung just blocked the ability to retool the Galaxy S8’s Bixby button
The Bixby button is on the left side of the phone, below the volume control.
Samsung’s digital assistant Bixby is here to help, whether or not you want it to.
In fact, Samsung is so sure that you’re going to love the groundbreaking power of Bixby that it preemptively blocked users’ ability to decouple the service from one of the phone’s few actual buttons.
The Galaxy S8 voice assistant—which won’t even be available on the day of the phone’s launch thanks to unspecified delays—allows customers to speak to their phone and ask it to do things like arrange rides or set up calendar invites. Eventually, the hope is that Bixby can be the voice interface for all of Samsung’s various consumer products ("Bixby, please microwave this burrito.")
Assuming that anyone wants to use the thing.
Samsung designed the S8 with a physical button on the left side of the phone just below the volume control. When Bixby is up and running on Samsung phones sometime this spring, hitting the side button will launch the voice assistant. Super easy and convenient, right?
What’s more, in a world where everything is going the way of the touchscreen, a dedicated button shows just how committed Samsung is to its digital assistant.
Do customers have the same unfettered Bixby enthusiasm? Maybe, maybe not — but either way Samsung is going to make sure that the Bixby button stays a Bixby button.
XDA Developers reports that a Samsung update blocked the ability of users to remap the Bixby button to other functions. Let’s say you wanted that button to launch a ride-hail app, or your music player, or whatever — consumers would have previously been able to do just this with third-party apps.
No more. A Samsung representative confirmed on Twitter that the ability to remap the button is a thing of the past.
In other words, that button belongs to Bixby and there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, except to root the phone — then you can make the Bixby button do whatever you want, even if that means launching Google Assistant.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 launches April 21.