“…until it’s fixed, Bixby runs the risk of being just another personal assistant on the Galaxy S8 and any other device where it will be made available on.” That was my conclusion when I first encountered Bixby on the Samsung Galaxy S8 2 years ago.
In the mobile tech world, 2 years is a long time. It’s like forever. As such, the version of Bixby that I was interacting with 3 months ago on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, seemed more mature even though it still had echoes of the earlier versions and was still pretty much a tolerable lame duck than the preceding versions. It got a few things right. Like, triggering it via voice worked most of the time and the results were accurate most of the time even though they tended to be more robotic than the reliable Google Assistant is.
While that is all good and I didn’t have much to complain about Bixby on the Galaxy Note 9, that is limited to how things are from a software standpoint. From a hardware perspective, I had so many bones to chew with Samsung over the dedicated button meant to trigger Bixby.
Not only is it badly placed, which means there are so many times I pressed it when all I wanted to do was press another button above it (more so when taking screen grabs) it also can’t be mapped to something else. That is quite a bummer since for people like me, I find more use for the Google Assistant than Samsung’s own virtual assistant.
Now, going forward, all that is changing.
According to Samsung, all its flagship devices that have the Bixby button (Galaxy S8/S8+, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S9/S9+ and Galaxy Note 9) will receive an update that will allow users of the said devices to configure the button to do more than just activate Bixby when launched.
“Now, you can customize the button to launch Bixby with either a single or double press, and map the other option to launch your favourite app or Quick command.”
Known as Bixby Key Customization, the feature became public with the announcement of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S10, as it is one of the headlining software features. Well, at least it is to all of us who never loved Samsung’s approach to this whole thing given that the likes of LG offer budget devices that have dedicated Google Assistant buttons and not their own weak take at a virtual assistant.
Bixby has been updated on the Galaxy S10 to bring more capabilities to Bixby Voice and Bixby Vision. Another feature, Bixby Routines, which makes use of machine learning to analyse one’s personal patterns and preferences based on how they use the apps on their device before recommending ways to automate certain tasks based on the insights it has gathered, has also been rolled out to the smart assistant.