Samsung removes ability to remap Bixby button
The new Galaxy S8 has a dedicated Bixby button at the left hand side of the device. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Samsung has an over-the-air update for the Galaxy S8 which will remove the ability to remap the Bixby button.

The new Galaxy S8 and its large screen sibling, S8+, have a dedicated Bixby button at the left hand side of the devices.

As soon as the Galaxy S8 was launched, some early reviewers managed to remap Bixby button to launch Google Assistant. This was possible using a free app called All in one Gestures, available for download on Google Play Store. It was even possible to launch Google Now if you like it more over the latest Google Assistant.

The remapping was possible because after pressing the Bixby button the system generated a key up and key down event, which can be intercepted by Accessibility Services.

As noticed by XDA forum members Samsung has now removed the ability to remap the Bixby button to prevent Accessibility Services from intercepting the key up and down event.

XDA developer flar2 claims that he was unable to remap the Bixby button to add support for an app called Button Mapper, after he installed the latest update on the Galaxy S8 bought from Telus in Canada. The update comes with firmware version NRD90M.G950WVLU1AQD9.

Samsung seems to have modified the system to consume the Bixby button's key events before it hits the Accessibility Services, which in turn makes it impossible to remap the button.

Philip Berne, who runs the reviews programme at Samsung US, has confirmed through tweet that Samsung has disabled the ability to remap Bixby, without giving further details as to why the behaviour has been changed.

Samsung recently said that the key features of Bixby such as Vision, Home and Reminder will be available when the S8 launches on 21 April, but its stand-out voice function will not be available until at least spring for consumers in the US and UK.