Samsung made a controversial decision with its flagship Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones: to include a physical button for summoning Bixby, the personal assistant that wasn’t finished upon the handsets’ launch. Some people were okay with the button’s existence when the option (briefly and unofficially) existed to remap it. Samsung squashed that ability, though, and now we’re left with a button that is, for many of us, really annoying and completely useless.
I’ve owned the Galaxy S8+ for months and I’ve used Bixby (intentionally) exactly once; that was when the voice support finally arrived and I set it up for the first time. As with other personal assistant apps, I didn’t find any particularly compelling reason to use it. I already get all the info provided in Bixby’s cards through other apps and I’m not interested in changing that. I don’t use voice commands. That leaves me with no use for Bixby.
Though I can choose to ignore Bixby, I can’t choose to get rid of the physical button attached to the side of the phone. A typical day of phone usage goes something like this:
– Grabs phone out of pocket
– Accidentally pushes Bixby button
– Grumbles while waiting for the Bixby screen to appear
– Tries to get rid of Bixby screen
– Decides turning the display off and on again is faster
– Wastes a handful of seconds.
Multiply that by however many times a day and you have a recipe for perpetual annoyance. Adding on top of that is the fact that there’s no easy way to quickly judge whether you’re grasping the phone from the front or back without looking at it. Too many times I’ve pushed the ‘power’ button while lifting the phone, not paying much attention, forgetting for one blessed second that the Bixby button is a thing, only to realize I grasped it backwards and summoned Bixby.
Screen off, screen on. Over and over and over.
It doesn’t seem like that big of deal, and in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t. When it happens multiple times a day, though, compared to the exactly zero times a day I use Bixby, that’s an issue. For every great thing I associate with the S8 — a fantastic display, excellent battery life — there’s this one giant caveat, this one big warning I feel compelled to give anyone asking about the phone.
“It has this extra button on the side, it’s really easy to push it accidentally, and, well…it’s annoying. Like, really annoying.”
The best way to solve this problem would have been never attempting to force Bixby on users in the first place. Hindsight is only good for the Galaxy S9 at this point, though. For those of us with the S8, there’s one acceptable solution and one preferred solution: give us the ability to disable the button or give us the ability to remap it to something else (or, ideally, both).
I’m not the only one who feels this way. A quick Google search returns numerous threads made by S8 owners who hate the button, who want to remap the button, who want to disable the button, who have briefly considered grinding it off with a Dremel tool. Samsung’s own product forums are full of the lamentations of S8 owners.
The going ‘solution’ to this problem is a suggestion that users pinch the screen, swipe from the left to the Bixby screen, and then toggle off the assistant. I did this and it did exactly nothing. Pressing the Bixby button a single time still summons Bixby. It is a demon that cannot be exorcised.
That’s it. That’s all there is to offer right now: a warning that if you don’t love Bixby, you’re probably going to hate it (or, at least, its button).