Samsung debuted Bixby and the dedicated Bixby button on the Galaxy S8 flagships. The infamous decision to not let users officially disable the button was reversed, as the option was later added with an update. That was only until the Galaxy Note 9 debuted, which again made it impossible to disable the button, with the option to launch Bixby with a double tap of the button added later. This option helped reduce accidental launches, brining respite to the users and negating the need for third-party apps to tweak the button’s functions.
With this year’s Galaxy S10 range of flagships, however, the company went one step further and offered an option to re-map the Bixby button to launch any other app of your choice or a quick command. The company promised to bring this feature to older Galaxy flagships running Android 9 Pie, such as the S8, S9, Note8, and Note9 devices. The latest update to Bixby is doing just that.
On launching Bixby on supported devices, a small prompt in the vertical ellipsis menu prompts of an update. Once updated, the option to re-map the key is listed under the “Bixby key” option. The feature lets you either launch an app with a single or a double press of the key. However, depending on what you choose, the key will be mapped to launch Bixby through the other available option. This means that if you choose to open a third-party app through a single press of the button, the double press will be mapped to Bixby. Unsurprisingly, the catch is that you cannot map the key to open any other digital assistant such as Google Assistant or Cortana, and long pressing the button defaults to Bixby’s voice command.
The update also introduces the ability to map custom ‘Quick commands’ to the key press in place of app launches. Quick commands can be used to instruct the phone to perform a set of actions based on a single word or phrase. Quick commands can now also be shared with friends or can be added to the Home screen as a shortcut.
In addition to the Bixby key re-map, updates to Bixby also bring with it the ability to unlock the phone via Voice unlock. As also mentioned in my review of Samsung’s One UI, Samsung’s assistant’s constant prompt to unlock the phone for seemingly simple tasks took away from its functionality. This new feature should enhance the assistant’s usability. However, this way of unlocking the phone might not be the safest.
The update to Bixby should be rolling out to all Galaxy S8, S9, Note8, and Note9 devices. However, if your device hasn’t received the update yet, fret not, since updates are usually rolled out gradually and should make it to all handsets with time.