The Galaxy S8’s devoted Bixby button was one of the least popular features on an otherwise well received phone, owing in part to the fact that Samsung’s smart assistant was still half-baked at launch. Unsurprisingly, the feature also made its way onto the Galaxy Note 8, though, by that time, the company had finally rolled out Bixby’s voice functionality for both devices.
This morning, a handful of scattered reports have noted an update letting users disable the button’s functionality — a move we’ve since directly confirmed with Samsung. When enabled, the button launches into the Bixby Home hub and when held down, it fires up Bixby voice. The new setting disables that quick tap hub launching feature, though Samsung doesn’t appear to have given users the ability to reconfigure it to launch different apps, a oft requested update.
No surprise, really, that Samsung hasn’t disabled the feature entirely. The company’s pushing Bixby big time and has a lot of ground to make up for, arriving at the smart assistant party well after Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google. If Bixby’s going to make any kind of dent in the space, it needs to hit the ground running, in spite of a couple of stumbles along the way. The S8 and Note 8 will prove a potentially make or break testing ground for the assistant.
Of course, Apple’s implemented similar functionality on the iPhone X, in lieu of a Home button. The side power button now doubles as a Siri launcher when held down. It’s not quite the same as a devoted smart assistant button — more double duty for an existing piece of real estate.