Samsung Electronics is currently in the process of rolling out an update to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus which allows owners of its Android flagships to disable the main functionality of the physical Bixby button. Only some models of the two devices are currently receiving the new firmware and the rollout still seems to be somewhat random in terms of supported countries, with Samsung not officially announcing the new software package in any capacity. Following the update, users are able to find a new option in the “Bixby Key” section of the digital companion’s settings which provides them with the option of disabling its ability to launch Bixby Home when pressing the button. No additional options are introduced with the update, meaning that you can either have the key launch Bixby Home when pressed or do nothing. Likewise, the long-press functionality of the button cannot be modified following the installation of the new firmware so pressing and holding it will still open Bixby Voice, the voice-enabled component of Samsung’s artificial intelligence companion which the South Korean tech giant started rolling out on a global level earlier this summer.
The existence of a physical button dedicated to launching Bixby has been one of only several complaints consumers and critics had about Samsung’s 2017 pair of Android flagships which were otherwise received in an extremely positive manner. Some third-party developers even made apps for remapping or entirely disabling the extra key found on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, though Samsung promptly blocked their ability to do so with a number of software updates. The latest turn of events indicates that the Seoul-based original equipment manufacturer is seemingly relaxing its stance on the matter, though it still isn’t willing to provide users with the option of completely disabling or repurposing the Bixby key found on its devices.
While the newly released Galaxy Note 8 also features the same physical key, there have so far been no reports of Samsung’s latest phablet receiving the same update. The software itself is seemingly being delivered as a new version of the Bixby app, suggesting that it should enable the same functionalities on the Galaxy Note 8 once it becomes available for download.