Samsung is making it possible for users to completely disable the Bixby key found on the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, and the Galaxy Note 8, with the South Korean phone maker now distributing a new update to its last three Android flagships allowing for the button to be rendered inoperable at will. Doing so is as simple as navigating to the "Bixby Key" section of the system Settings app where the same key can also be re-enabled if the user wishes to do so. The new software package is currently being distributed via the Galaxy Apps store and is expected to hit all eligible devices over the coming days. The update is accompanied by a new version of the Bixby Home and Bixby Service systems, though their changelogs don't appear to mention any major additions and presumably only ship with bug fixes and possible performance improvements.
The new update builds on the one distributed in mid-September when Samsung allowed users to disable Bixby activations using the extra physical keys on its devices, though the button itself would still wake up the handsets when pressed. The dedicated Bixby key has been one of the rare complaints users had about the Galaxy S8 lineup and the recently launched Galaxy Note 8, with all three devices otherwise being highly praised by both critics and consumers alike. Not all people who opted to purchase one of Samsung's 2017 flagships wanted to use Bixby and even some who did ended up not preferring conjuring the artificial intelligence assistant with a dedicated button, with that feedback apparently prompting Samsung to provide its customers with a way to disable the key. Remapping the button still isn't officially approved by the company who previously fought against such attempts with some success.
Bixby is still advertised as one of the main selling points of Samsung's new high-end smartphones and the South Korean company is likely to continue pursuing that approach over the course of 2018, with the upcoming Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus both being expected to feature a similar key dedicated to activating the digital companion. The tech giant's next Android flagships are expected to be officially announced by late winter.