The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a fantastic device, one of this year's best smartphones, but it wasn't without its own "controversies." Specifically, the placement of the fingerprint reader on the back of the handset, up there near the top and just enough out of the way to be kind of annoying. But the Bixby button garnered plenty of attention, too, and not always for the best reasons.
Samsung did a very Samsung thing when it announced Bixby, its answer to all of the digital personal assistants out there in the wild. Bixby goes beyond what the competition does, though, letting users control on-screen options with just their voice. It's an admittedly cool feature, one that will probably be incredibly useful down the road.
But it went all-in by including a physical button on the side of the Galaxy S8 to activate it.
There was some back-and-forth regarding the button after the Galaxy S8's launch. Was it a good idea? Would Samsung ever let Galaxy S8 owners remap it if they wanted? Or was it just a Bixby button, whether people liked it or not? The company apparently thinks it's a good idea because they included the same button on the Galaxy Note 8. And we can probably say that, at least for now (maybe it changes with next year's flagship), the Bixby button is indeed meant for Bixby or nothing at all.
Samsung does let owners disable the button. Which is great? I guess. It's an odd move to not let owners remap it to what they want. I'm sure some folks would like a physical camera button, for instance. But the reality right now feels like Samsung taking its ball and going home. "If you don't want to use Bixby, well, here's a pointless button on your phone!"
I tried Bixby a few times, but ultimately I knew that I wouldn't be using it in the long run because Google Assistant exists. A friend of mine is trying to decide if he wants to keep his Galaxy S8 or pick up a Pixel 2 XL, and the only negative thing he had to say about the Galaxy S8 was Bixby. "I never use it," he told me. "Otherwise, love this phone."
I understand the sentiment. So, I'm curious and reaching out to you: If you have a Galaxy S8 or a Galaxy Note 8, do you use Bixby at all? Or is this a button, and a feature, that you avoid on your handset? Do you use another digital personal assistant instead? Let me know!