Samsung Bixby updates, latest news and features

Update: Update allows users to disable Bixby button
Samsung Bixby updates, latest news and features

Samsung's new AI assistant Bixby is supposed to rival Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but it is still an unproven feature on two widely praised devices: the Galaxy S8 and Note 8. After months of delays, Bixby Voice features are now available for all S8 and S8+ devices in the US. Samsung has been crushing the dreams of those who want to remap the Bixby button, but now you can at least disable it.

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You can now disable the Bixby button

The latest update to the Bixby software allows users to disable some of the functionality of the physical Bixby button on the side of the device. This will come as a relief to those who don't like accidentally bumping it and launching Bixby Home, but especially to those who are annoyed that they can't remap the button and would rather just ditch it entirely.

Here's how to do it: Make sure you update to the latest version of Bixby, then open up Bixby Home and you'll find a Bixby key toggle button at the top which says "Open Bixby Home when you press the Bixby key." You can also configure it in the Bixby settings menu. Once you disable it, when you press the Bixby button, nothing will happen. But a long press will still launch Bixby Voice as normal, so it's not an entirely dead button. And, if you want it, Bixby Home can be accessed by swiping left on the home screen.

According to SamMobile, some users are able to turn the button off with the toggle, but others aren't given the option after updating. It appears to be random, so we can hold out home that it will come to all Not 8 and S8 devices in due time.

Bixby Voice has arrived in US after months of delays

Bixby wasn't launched when the Galaxy S8 came out in the US in April. Samsung's plan was to roll out the voice-activated assistant a month late, in May. But, Bixby Voice has taken a full three months after the launch of the S8 to arrive finally. This has been frustrating for those who have already received their Galaxy S8 units, but good news for those who have been rooting for Google Assistant to win the AI battle.

As of June 19, an update bringing Bixby Voice is rolling out over-the-air to all Galaxy S8 and S8+ devices in the US. The voice control features arriving are the same as what was made available to a limited group of beta testers over the past few weeks. One key differentiating feature from the competition is that it can control things on your phone, rather than just fetch information from the internet for you. We will find out over the coming weeks if the feature is truly useful, and if the kinks leading to the delays have truly been worked out yet.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the reason for the most recent delay of the launch of the Bixby Voice feature was that Bixby was having trouble with the English language. Unlike Siri and Google Assistant, it had problems with grammar and syntax when forming sentences in English.

The Bixby button: Samsung doesn't want you to remap it

Some have been trying to remap the physical button on the phone so it can become more useful. Samsung doesn't seem too happy about that.

In early April, we first learned it was possible to use the All in One Gestures app to remap the Bixby button. This app, and others like it, work by intercepting button press events with Accessibility Services, then remapping them to perform another function. An S8 owner and app developer using Canadian carrier Telus received the latest system update from Samsung (NRD90M.G950WVLU1AQD9), and he reports that the update has already blocked the ability to remap the Bixby button (without root) just a couple of weeks after users discovered they could actually do this in the first place.

This almost certainly won't be limited to a specific carrier, as this was a swift and deliberate act by Samsung. A Samsung employee responsible for the reviews program in the US tweeted a confirmation that the ability to remap the button has been removed, and it won't be officially supported down the line.

This move was clearly done to encourage S8 owners to use Bixby, but it's not likely to achieve that goal. The only people who would be remapping the button are those who go out of their way to download a third party app just to do so. Samsung is deliberately blocking their ability to customize their phone, and doing so isn't going to make people want to use the Bixby button, it's only going to alienate them. Samsung is showing that it cares more about forcing a feature on people that they don't want than pleasing its customers who only want their very expensive phone to be a little bit more useful.

What do you think of Samsung blocking the ability to remap the Bixby button? Is it a smart strategic move or just a disappointment for users? What do you think of the Bixby delays? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Greg1100 Aug 13, 2017 Link to comment

    With all the breakable / shatterable glass on these S8's, a button that can't be reprogrammed on a phone that you own and have paid up to £800 for, is why I said to hell wirh Samsung and bought a OnePlus 5

  • Buzea Gabriel Aug 8, 2017 Link to comment

    ,,no longer possible to remap the dedicated button for the virtual assistant,,..... i have the latest update and remapping the button works flawlessly (have it remapped as the camera shortcut). Why you lying ?

  • Anna S. Jul 19, 2017 Link to comment


  •   12
    Deactivated Account Jun 4, 2017 Link to comment

    Svoice 2017, with a function locked hardware button for something that's not even functional. LOL! 😂

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    • Buzea Gabriel Aug 8, 2017 Link to comment

      It's not locked, i have it remapped as my camera button with a simple playstore app.

  • Dane Apr 19, 2017 Link to comment

    Hang on there guys. Your'e only looking at your own limited point of view. Criticising the Bixby button is like criticising the heated seat button in a car. I live in a very warm and sunny southern Spain, so i don't want or need this dedicated button/switch. However i'm not alone in the world and i believe some people live in colder climes (why ? I'm not sure hahaha) and they find this a very useful feature. Just because somethings not right for you doesn't mean it's useless.

  •   31
    Deactivated Account Apr 19, 2017 Link to comment

    it's easy for a hardware company to do hardware, a physical button for an AI is a lot easier than designing software...
    like the edge design, physically a great differentiator, looks cool but without any meaningful software.

    Bixby will eventually utilise Viv an AI that Sammy paid over $200 million for, probably the best available, from the guys that did Siri, and it really doesn't need a physical button.

    what was Sammy thinking,.. let's get rid of the physical Home button (a big deal) and use software for Navigation.. but..
    we really need a button for our AI cos we haven't got the time to properly develop the software,
    even better why not use the Edge for AI .. oh that's because we haven't really developed any useful software for our physical edge design..

    it's a shame but it's all about the money and marketing..
    Sammy has potentially a world changing AI with Viv.
    all Samsung really needs now is more software expertise and their software investment to match their hardware chops..

    • Benzo Jun 20, 2017 Link to comment

      Well, no. There is basically no difference between a software button and a hardware.

  • Shankar Prasad Nandi Apr 19, 2017 Link to comment

    I don't agree with the whole interpretation. Bixby is a feature which Samsung obviously considers to be at the core of the user experience. In the same way that Google Assistant and other AI assistants are changing the underpinning of how we interact with digital devices and how our devices interact with each other. That is the reason why not only Samsung but Google, Amazon and Apple too are placing such emphasis on these digital assistants. Notwithstanding the fact that these can pretty much accomplish little at the moment. But as they grow in accomplishments (which should be the case, since artificial intelligence is supposed to learn patterns and rapidly personalize), they are anticipated to take over and manipulate the very way we interact with our mobile phones. Hence it makes sense to absolutely underline that point by having a dedicated hardware button for Bixby. When one buys the phone one is deciding to accept Bixby as part of that ecosystem, WITH its button. It's something like the camera. Pretty much everyone who uses a mobile phone is okay with the camera. If for some reason I don't have regular use for a camera will I try to prise out the camera and remap it to something else? I'll rather just let it be. When smartphones first started coming with good cameras, people hardly thought that one day they'd disrupt the market for standalone digital cameras. But the manufacturers stuck to the policy of integrating phone and camera, and the trend caught on as the cameras improved. You need to have a vision for changing something, even if it doesn't appear too attractive at first. If you don't like the idea of a dedicated Bixby button, buy a different brand. But if everything is dictated by the current market whims, no innovation is going to be.

  •   24
    Deactivated Account Apr 18, 2017 Link to comment

    Interesting article Brittany totally agree on the points you are making. I have suspected this for a while now that samsung will force bixby on s8 users. Call me a conspiracy theorist or whatever, but I have a suspicion these are deliberate attempts to get as much info from the end user as possible. This is merely one of the tools used. The smarttv case is another one. I would think if there were no motives behind bixby then samsung would have made it a optional extra or utility or function that could have been switched on/off. Forcing it on users tells me there's something more to bixby in my opinion.

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  •   46
    Deactivated Account Apr 18, 2017 Link to comment

    This just tell me if Samsung ever departs from Android with their Tizen, they will quickly become a closed OS like Apple's. The main difference is they would still be terrible in the update department.

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    • Shankar Prasad Nandi Apr 19, 2017 Link to comment

      Samsung doesn't have any serious plans to put Tizen on all its phones. Highly unlikely. If it had, it'd have taken concrete steps to effectuate that. And it's not going to risk its market by rushing into that sort of thing. Yet if that does happen I am not of the opinion that updates are going to be as bad as they are now.

      •   46
        Deactivated Account Apr 19, 2017 Link to comment

        Maybe not right now. To me it looks like the direction they are heading.

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