This free app lets you remap the Galaxy S8's Bixby button to any app you want

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.

Chris Welch

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.

Comments

Hopefully it doesn’t impact battery life too much.

This is why I haven’t had a Samsung phone since the S4. There’s a weird friction in Samsung phones, almost as if they resent having to run on Android.

I understand Samsung dilemma. They are desperately trying not to be just another android hardware oem. The problem for them, there is nothing they can do about it now. They made their bed long ago and gave up control of their destiny to Google/Android when they did not have a comparable os to compete with iOS. They have been trying for years to develop their own ecosystem with no success and that will not change until the next big consumer product shift. If you don’t control the platform, then you don’t control your destiny.

Right, it’s like they’re looking for something to stick and give them the leverage they need to dump Google’s OS: Touch Wiz, S apps that can’t be uninstalled, new default keyboards, S music, an inferior assistant, etc. Like you said, they likely won’t get control of the platform any time soon, not if they keep whiffing on the software.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Samsung phone though, so I’m sure their presence isn’t as overbearing since Google made many of its key apps available through the app store. So you can download Messages and use that over Samsung’s SMS app, which wasn’t the case when I had my S4.

I’d rather they focus on kick-ass hardware and just run stock Android with a few removable "killer apps." I couldn’t care less about their skins, HTC’s, or anyone else’s for that matter.

But given that the company would like to encourage users to use Bixby as much as possible

Rather than trying to force S8 users into that behavior, maybe they should instead roll it out to S7 owners. I’m willing to give Bixby a spin, but I’m not going to be buying a new phone for at least another year.

This is an extremely sloppy tweak. It’s also very slow, it takes a solid 1.5 seconds to bring up Bixby and another half second to the app I remapped it to (messages). In that time I could just manually go to the app. Also having the BixRemap app open and in my notifications, status bar and even lock screen at all times is really annoying.

Along with the incredible amount of bloatware and unreliable biometric sensors, I don’t understand why The Verge and others are giving this phone a pass.

It is a lot faster on subsequent launches, after Bixby is loaded into memory, but as the dev, and this article said, it is a sloppy app and is just a PoC.

The persistent notification is because it makes sure the app doesn’t get closed out of memory. You can disable it, but then the system can close it out if it feels the need. On my OnePlus 3T this wasn’t an issue and I disabled all apps persistent notifications, but Samsung is notorious on tight memory management, and has 2 less geebees of RAM.

Bixby, out of the box on Verizon, does nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Bixby, according to Samsung’s own presentations, will do very little that other apps (most also included with the phone) aren’t already doing, and doing better. It’s one ace is the voice controls for the phone, but that’s predominantly for non-power users. Those of us that are quite familiar with our phones can find way to silence our phones faster than saying "Bixby, silence my phone." Hell, my phone automatically changes its sound profile based on where I am.

Which is why mandating the button is so baffling to me. The people for whom Bixby will be great would never figure out how to change the button, and the people for whom a button is great but Bixby is terrible will endlessly try to find ways to make it work. All Samsung is doing is pissing off power users by deliberately hindering power users’ productivity for the demands of Samsung’s marketing (though, frankly, I expect the marketing department is most angry at this decision.)

I can’t think of many instances where deliberately gimping a device worked out well for the company doing the gimping. In any case, I actually love my S8, but as stated elsewhere, I’d have gone with a Pixel 2 if I could have gotten it for no cost, as I got my S8. The Galaxy Forever program did its job and locked me in, as I want to get an S9 next year, when I expect Samsung has improved the camera, increased the battery size, and realized that Bixby was an enormous flop (that may take to the S10, but I doubt Bixby is mentioned much in Samsung presentations 4 years from now, if at all.) I used a package disabler to kill all Bixby functions on my phone, which means the camera no longer endlessly reminds me Bixby exists, and accidental button pushes don’t ask me to set up a useless service.

The button was probably in the pipe 2 years ago. That’s about the cycle needed to bring a phone to market. Bixby’s programmers probably were the point of failure, and they (Sammy) likely expected it to be more mature than it is right now.

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