Samsung Won’t Let You Remap the Dedicated Bixby Button on the Galaxy S8

19 Apr

By Mudit Mohilay, The Tech Portal

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 has a lot to recommend it. However, one of the most special features about this device is the home-grown, Bixby assistant that the South Korean company hopes will bring a paradigm shift in how we look at AI powered assistants. So great is Samsung’s confidence in Bixby’s prowess, that it has added a dedicated button to call it up, on the side of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus devices. And it isn’t going to let you mess with the true purpose of the button either.

After hearing Bixby this and Bixby that, many were unpleasantly surprised when Samsung announced that the assistant won’t have voice commands in the US at launch. The irony of a voice assistant being unable to respond to voice commands was apparently lost on the South Korean smartphone behemoth. However, one could argue that Bixby is being projected as so much more than a mere voice assistant and many of its other capabilities will still be available.

With that said, folks started thinking about the extra button Samsung has placed on the side of its S8 and how it could be mapped to a different service — Google Assistant for instance. Indeed, a bunch of developers discovered that the accessibility service could be used to intercept the original function of the button. Meaning that the dedicated Bixby button could actually be mapped to something else. A button to open the camera, call up a third-party application and so on.  Cool right? Well, Samsung wasn’t amused at the idea of developers using the button it expressly meant for its Bixby assistant for other purposes.

The company is issuing an update that will block anyone from remapping the button. As per AndroidPolice:

This news comes from XDA dev Flar2, who was updating his Button Mapper app for the GS8. He notes that his new Telus Galaxy S8 allowed remapping of the Bixby button with Button Mapper when he received it, but an OTA update changed the button’s functionality. Now, the Bixby button’s action is no longer routed through accessibility. Thus, it can’t be changed without root access.

And rooting as we all know, voids the warranty of the device. So, unless you literally can’t stand the idea of Bixby possessing a dedicated button on the S8, you are probably going to have to live with it. The S8 is going to be a pricey device and I don’t know if voiding its warranty this early in the game is going to be such a good idea. We can probably expect Samsung to issue similar OTAs to other carriers as well, so it seems like voice command or not, Bixby is going to be around where you can’t miss it.