Third-party Android developers had earlier figured out that the dysfunctional Bixby button could be remapped to something more useful as its default functionality has been disabled by Samsung, owing to the unavailability of voice commands at launch. But, there is bad news for all those tweakers and power users as the company has got the wind of the situation and has permanently blocked the accessibility service that could be used to remap the button to third-party apps like Google Assistant.
Samsung has reportedly rolled out a new over-the-air (OTA) update that literally disables access to invoking the KeyEvent functionality, using the button. It seems the South Korean smartphone giant isn't too pleased with the modding capability hidden inside its hallmark feature of the phone.
The confirmation regarding the block imposed on remapping of the Bixby button comes from veteran XDA developer Flar2, who recently discovered that he was no longer able to use the Button Mapper app to change the invoking functionality of the Bixby button on his Telus Galaxy S8, as the OTA update has changed the button's attributes.
It is now established that one needs root access in order reroute the Bixby's functionality through the accessibility service and thereby enable system-wide access to voice assistant. Meanwhile, it is being speculated that a similar OTA update could be rolled out to other carrier variants as well to prevent users from modifying and using the Bixby functionality in its half-baked state.
Update: Meanwhile, a user with a review unit in the US has reportedly claimed that his device is up to date and still has the ability to remap the Bixby button.