Samsung is finally letting people disable the Bixby button on their Galaxy S8 smartphones, to prevent the unwanted accessing of Samsung’s smart virtual assistant.
In a similar vein to barking ‘OK Google’ at the Google Assistant, now found in a good range of Android handsets, a home page packed with context related information pops up when the Galaxy S8’s Bixby button is hit.
But Samsung has now made it possible, via a Bixby update, to toggle whether the Bixby Home screen is displayed when the dedicated button is hit.
The option can be found in the Bixby settings, and while it doesn’t completely disable the button or allow it to be used for different functions, it at least prevents accidental booting up of Bixby Home. The option also doesn’t shut off Bixby Home which can still be accessed by a left hand swipe of the home screen, and Bixby’s voice commands are still powered-up by pressing and holding the button.
Third-party apps and tools have allowed the remapping of the Bixby button, but Samsung has been clamping down on them, clearly wanting to ring fence its virtual assistant to force people to use it. But Bixby has only recently got proper UK support, having originally made its debut in the US and South Korea, meaning for months Galaxy S8 users in the UK and other regions only got limited functionality out of the Bixby button and the virtual assistant itself. So it’s no surprise that some people may have been keen to shut the button off or use it to trigger other functions.
While Bixby has been designed to control all manner of Samsung and third-party smart devices, there’s an argument to how much the virtual assistant is needed when the Galaxy S8 already comes packing the Google Assistant. a virtual assistant that has the might of Google’s cloud infrastructure and machine learning research behind it, and unlike Bixby came fully functional with its UK debut.
Bixby may be more useful in the UK now that it has its full feature suite enabled, so the option to disable some of its functions may seem a little late, but at least Samsung has provided the option to do so rather than force its customers to bend a little to its will.
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