Samsung won a lot of fans when they finally got rid of the dedicated navigation buttons with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. This was a big move as they’ve been hanging onto that aging system for so long, and this allowed them to decrease the size of the bottom bezel. With this change, the company then introduced a 4th dedicated hardware button on the side of the device and this was used with their brand new exclusive virtual assistant, Bixby.
Many people wondered why Samsung would go down this route but there were likely multiple reasons behind this decision. Firstly, it put this new virtual assistant right in front of people who were buying their new flagship smartphone. Even if you were able to learn to not hit the button accidentally when you were trying to adjust the volume, it was incredibly hard to ignore it. But it also replaced some of the functions that Samsung has been using the home button for (like booting into Download Mode).
When Android enthusiasts first learned about the button, many wondered if Samsung would let you customize it to open any application or launch any activity. This wasn’t the case, but there were 3rd-party applications that could add this functionality. That is, until Samsung disabled that option through regular means. Community developers continued working on the case and eventually figured out other methods that let you perform other actions (or even disable) with the Bixby button.
Upon further investigation, changing this options doesn’t actually disable the button entirely. It will prevent accidental presses, but holding the button down will launch Bixby Voice even if change this to the “Don’t Open Anything” option. However, you can go into the settings of Bixby and disable Bixby Voice itself, so that this long press action doesn’t do anything. Granted, we still can’t use it to launch another application, but at least we can disable it so that we’re preventing accidental launches. Maybe we’ll see Samsung add more features to this button in the future.