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One of the most talked about new features of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ is a new virtual assistant that can be used to perform any task on the phone that you’d usually do via touch. However, most Bixby functionality won’t be available at launch in the US, which means the dedicated Bixby button will not be very useful at all, at least initially. Those of you who think they can simply reassign the button to something else — say, launch Google Assistant — should know that Samsung is officially blocking that capability.
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A developer who was working on a Button Mapper app that would have allowed Galaxy S8 users to reassign the button to something else discovered that his app stopped working after his S8 received a system update from Samsung via Telus in Canada.
When pressing the Bixby button, the system generates a key up and down event, xda-developers explains. This action can be intercepted by Accessibility Services, and used in apps like the one above. But now Samsung has blocked the feature, which means that as soon as you update your Galaxy S8 after you receive it, you won’t be able to remap the Bixby button. Samsung already confirmed that the Bixby button can’t be used with any other features.
@geoff5093 @Lostatsea1923 @One3OneKing @droid_life It was exploiting a system-level behavior. That behavior has been changed. Can't say it will never happen, but we won't officially support.
— Philip Berne (@philipberne) April 17, 2017
At the end of the day, not all Android users are tinkerers looking to change the Galaxy S8’s default features. And it’s pretty understandable why Samsung wants that button to be assigned to one of the phone’s signature features, even if that feature isn’t going to be fully functional for a few months. That said, if you really want to pair your Bixby button with something else, you’ll be able to as long as you root the device first.
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