The new Galaxy Note 10 design eliminates the Bixby button. I'll miss it – I love the Bixby button on my Note 8. Even though I never use it for Bixby.
What to say? Let me explain that. Samsung certainly hopes that customers will use the language assistant Bixby, but not. On Android, Google Assistant (also known as "Okay Google") is not used by anyone I know Bixby. If there were no advertising when the phone was set up, most Samsung owners would not even know it was there.
But the button is hard to miss. It's on the opposite side of the on / off switch in my Note 8, just below the volume rocker, in an ideal position for a fingertip. (Or indeed, to be mistaken for the on / off switch when you've just gotten used to your new gadget.) And as phone users are used to, I've redefined it with the help of this handy app in Play Store. This is what the owners of Galaxy devices have done since the launch of the Bixby button on the Galaxy S8.
Instead of enabling Samsung's awkward and questionably useful Bixby launcher, I can launch any other app or use a set of applications from other tools with this interim application. Currently I've set my setup like this:
- Press once: Hide navigation and notification bar for full screen apps
- Double press: Play or pause music
- Long press: Activate LED flashlight
I had the idea to check phones in the Samsung Galaxy Active series. The super-strong Active and Rugby phones had an extra button long before the Galaxy S and the Note, and they contained options like those described above. Programming an additional button for a frequently used function is not a new idea in mobile design. I remember explicitly remapping the voice note button on my Palm Tungsten T3 to start the RealPlayer MP3 program.
The noise you just heard The gray hair spread in my beard.
I relied so much on this extra button on the daily use of my smartphone that I missed it a lot when I tried the Pixel 3, just with the usual power and volume buttons. I managed to build a similar setup with double and long press on the volume rocker, but it was not nearly as convenient. I was happy to have it back on grade 8.
These and other similar apps for reusing the Bixby button are an excellent example of inadvertent design. This is the same thing that happened with LED camera flashes on cell phones: originally included to compensate for tiny, weak camera openings, the flash is now de facto a "flashlight". (Look in this article – you did not even notice it I called it the "LED flashlight" instead of the camera flash, right?) The same goes for the front-facing camera, which replaces a compact or hand mirror in many purses Has. Who can guess how the next weirdly useful peculiarity of phone design could turn out?
On Note 10, the Bixby service can only be activated by voice input or by long pressing of the on / off switch when really necessary. That basically means it's on the long, slow road to the Samsung scrap heap. This is part of a broader trend towards slimmer and simpler devices – the Touch 10 also eliminates the headphone jack, as so many other high-end phones lately. However, do not think about the wonderful, unintentional usefulness of the Bixby key and how we might be served better than we would expect from the features that "nobody wants."