Earlier this week, Samsung released an update to the Bixby app for its Galaxy S8, S9, S10, Note 8, and Note 9 smartphones that finally addresses something we’ve been asking for since Bixby’s debut: the ability to natively reprogram the hardware button on the side of a Samsung phone to do something other than just launch Bixby.
That’s right, you can now use the Bixby button to launch any number of apps, such as the camera, Twitter, Gmail, Google Maps, or whatever you want. But unfortunately, Samsung is blocking the ability to use it for the Google Assistant or other virtual assistants, like Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa. For that, you’ll still need to rely on a third party app.
Here’s how to remap the Bixby button to something more useful:
- Make sure your Bixby Voice app is up-to-date. You can check within the settings section of the app itself or through Samsung’s Galaxy Apps store. You’ll need to be on version 2.1.04.18 or later for this to work.
- Launch Bixby Voice and tap the three vertical dots on right side of the screen. Click the Settings option.
- Scroll down to Bixby key and tap to open the configuration options.
- Here you have an option to set the key to open Bixby on one press and a secondary function on a double press, or vice versa. Choose which option you prefer and then tap the secondary function to choose which app to launch. Note that you can’t fully disable the Bixby button; it has to be mapped to either a single or double press.
- You can choose to launch a specific app by tapping the cog wheel on the right. Or you can program a Bixby routine to run when you press the button.
- As you’ll see when you go to the app selection screen, there’s no way to natively launch the Google Assistant with the Bixby button. To make that work, you’ll need to rely on a third-party app — the folks over at XDA Developers have created one and put together steps on how to make it work. Note that you’ll have to sideload the app, which comes with some security risks, so proceed at your own risk. If you don’t want to deal with sideloading, there’s a 99 cent app called BixAssist available in the Google Play Store that performs the same function.
That’s all there is to it — you now have a little more control over what the hardware buttons on your phone do. Hopefully, Samsung will improve this in the future and allow for native support of Google Assistant and the ability to fully disable launching Bixby entirely. But for now, the button is slightly more functional than before.
Update, 8:10AM, March 5, 2019: Added information about BixAssist app from the Google Play Store.
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