Samsung may be having a fantastic year as far as mobile sales go (not so much politically), but it isn’t leaving 2017 unscathed. It biggest scandal, if you could call it that, is the overly hyped but totally underwhelming Bixby AI assistant and Samsung’s stubbornness to let users do what they want with the Bixby button. The manufacturer finally relented and let users at least stop Bixby from activating, but still woke up the phone. With the latest update, however, you can completely disable that button and never have to worry about a thing.
Bixby isn’t completely terrible and has one key feature that no AI assistant so far has. At least when it does work. Bixby can let you control most functions of your phone with just your voice, sometimes even stringing multiple steps in just one command. As far as overall usefulness goes, however, Bixby still leaves much to be desired.
Complicating matters is the dedicated Bixby button that Samsung is using to force the feature on everyone. Having an extra button wouldn’t be half as bad if not for two things. First is that Bixby is barely usable. The second is that button is hard-wired to launch Bixby Voice or Bixby Home. Samsung has blocked third-party apps and workaround that aimed to repurpose that button, citing security concerns. Amusingly, some users do consider Bixby a security liability.
Samsung eventually pushed out an update that let users disable triggering Bixby with that button, but it came with one glaring flaw. That button still woke up the phone and its display, even if it ultimately did nothing. Given the button’s location, that isn’t something that’s hard to accidentally do a lot. This latest update finally fixes that, though it still leaves one otherwise useful button totally wasted.
If Samsung’s spiel at its recent developers conference is to be believed, it is heavily invested on Bixby and is promising even more useful things to do with it. Sadly, it may have already soured users’ view of the platform, doing irreparable damage to its image.