Oh Samsung… you do everything right and then do something really stupid. And the latest guff is getting a lot of negative press, as Samsung has now confirmed that it has blocked the “exploit” that lets users remap the Bixby button on the handset.
What does “remapping” the Bixby button mean? Simple: a user can, using software, add in a different functionality to the physical Bixby key – basically, swap out Bixby for something else.
“We learned that it was possible to remap the Bixby button to perform pretty much whatever action you wanted back on April 4th,” notes XDA Developers.
“This was made possible due to the fact that, when pressing the Bixby button (or any other hardware button for that matter), the system generates a key up and key down event which can be intercepted by Accessibility Services. Hence why the All in one Gestures application requires you to enable its Accessibility Service in my tutorial.”
But Samsung does not want users doing this, as it’s spent a good deal of money on Bixby. So much, in fact, that it shipped a half-baked version inside of the digital assistant inside its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. Talk about dedication.
Samsung issued a software update this week that has disabled what it refers to as an “exploit”, rendering the Bixby button useless to developers that are looking to add in another feature.
This type of move, which is very aggressive and completely misguided, has irked a lot of users. XDA Developers has opined about why this is a disappointing move from Samsung in a post that is well worth reading.
But the long and short of it is this: Samsung wants you to use that button to access Bixby. Nothing else. Do don’t ever bother. And, no, Samsung doesn’t seem to care that Bixby is not yet finished, either.
Rather than meeting users half way, Samsung has simply gone nuclear on the problem and created a huge PR backlash in the process. Granted, this PR backlash pales in comparison to last year’s Note debacle, but it does show that Samsung just cannot help itself when it comes to controversy.
Android, at its core, is ALL ABOUT being open and customisable. Samsung should be celebrating this, talking-up how developers are using its physical buttons to add in more utility to its already-impressive flagship. But it didn’t. Instead, it took the route of nobbling the feature and making itself look unfavourable in the process.
Also: none of what users’ were doing could be even half-way considered an “exploit” in the first place!