You Can Somewhat Reclaim The Bixby Button Again

The greatest irony of the Galaxy S8 is that Samsung launched a crippled Bixby in the worst way possible. Whether you're still waiting for promised features or have no care for Bixby at all, that means you're left with a practically useless hardware button. Some have tried to give that button some other purpose in life, but Samsung quickly slammed that door shut. Now BixRemap tries to pick up where others left off but also does two things differently. For one, it can only launch Google Now. For another, Samsung hasn't yet blocked it.

Samsung's official reason for blocking the previous app, named Button Mapper, was that it exploited system-level functionality to intercept what should be a command to launch Bixby for a more generic purpose. Unofficially, of course, it prefers that its proprietary button remain linked to its proprietary service that has yet to come into full bloom.

We'll leave out, for now, the debate on whether Samsung's reasoning has standing, because Button Mapper is hardly the only such "exploiting app" that exists, on Google Play Store even. No matter how Samsung twists it, the move is running afoul of anyone and everyone who hasn't been convinced of Bixby's potential. Probably because that potential hasn't even been actualized yet.

Fortunately for those users, Android is a system with developers who don't usually take "no" for an answer. A quick 20-minute app named BixRemap just popped up on Google Play Store and, more importantly, still seems to be working. But it has one critical limitation. It can only launch Google Now. Actually it has a second limitation. It can only launch Google Now after Bixby is activated. It's just a split second, depending on your device, but it can be a bit jarring for some.

So BixRemap basically replaces Bixby Home with Google Now. It doesn't actually address Bixby's glaring lack of voice recognition and voice control. Then again, you can always activate Google Now or Google Assistant from Google Now, or from any screen even, and it will be ready to listen. Unlike Bixby.