Samsung’s somewhat half-baked Bixby assistant, along with the dedicated hardware button devoted to launching it, is one of the few gripes to be had about the otherwise stellar Galaxy S8. Fortunately, a new free utility called BixRemap from developer Dave Bennett (via Phandroid) seems to fix that problem by allowing users to remap the Bixby button to launch any other app. For example, you can have the button trigger Google’s far more useful Assistant instead.
Bennett notes that the app was cobbled together in “20 minutes,” and is meant to serve more as a proof of concept in its current stage, but it does more or less work. There are a couple of caveats to the hack, however. The biggest is that the entire thing is a bit sloppy, with the remapped button still launching Bixby first before then routing you to your desired app. Additionally, BixRemap needs access to usage tracking permissions to function, which is a fairly large amount of data that you’re giving the app. (It’s likely that any Bixby remapping app would need similar access.) Lastly, BixRemap puts a persistent notification in the notification tray when active, although the app does seem to still work if you disable the notification manually.
Still, for any Galaxy S8 owners who would prefer to get more utility out of the extra hardware button and are frustrated by Samsung’s firmware update blocking earlier Bixby hacks, BixRemap could serve as some form of relief, even if it’s execution is still a bit sloppy.
But really, at the end of the day it’s frustrating that Samsung is forcing users to go to these lengths at all instead of just allowing them to use their devices the way that they’d like without resorting to weird hacks. But given that the company would like to encourage users to use Bixby as much as possible, it seems unlikely that that policy will change anytime soon.