Samsung consistently makes excellent flagship smartphones, but there’s been one persistent annoyance since the Galaxy S8 back in 2017: the Bixby button.
The company has been pretty insistent on sticking with its virtual assistant through thick and thin, and that includes a dedicated button that’s a mild annoyance to most users, often prone to accidental pushes. And while you can bind other functions to the button in addition to Bixby, Samsung won’t let you remove it completely (at least, not on my S10e – Lord knows I’ve tried.)
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But now it looks like that might change: a report in Bloomberg states that Google and Samsung are close to a deal that could see Google software pushed a bit harder. The article states that the deal would see Samsung “promote Google’s digital assistant and Play Store”, giving Google “more valuable daily access” to Samsung users – which is quite important, given Samsung is the world’s biggest phone manufacturer.
Whether this would see Samsung’s own products completely sidelined or just given a little less prominence remains to be seen. But if it resulted in a bit more revenue for the company, then it may well prove appealing at a time when people just aren’t buying as many Samsung products due to the pandemic-induced downturn.
“Samsung remains committed to our own ecosystem and services,” a Samsung spokesperson told Bloomberg in a statement. “At the same time, Samsung closely works with Google and other partners to offer the best mobile experiences for our users.”
Google was equally noncommittal, with a spokesperson saying: “Like all Android device makers, Samsung is free to create its own app store and digital assistant. That’s one of the great features of the Android platform. And while we regularly talk with partners about ways to improve the user experience, we have no plans to change that.”
Despite appearing like a denial at first glance, neither of these statements directly counter the main claims of the article. Just because a company is ‘free’ to pursue their own app store and digital assistant, doesn’t mean it will if a deal is reached. Equally, being “committed to our own ecosystem and services” doesn’t mean they necessarily will have the same prominence forever.
Still, if this means the end of the Bixby button, we’re all for it. Even getting to pick which digital assistant we want bound to it would be an improvement...