Bixby is supposed to be one of the S8's key features, and goes head-to-head with Google Assistant /

The handset's virtual assistant is not yet up to scratch

Samsung is blocking users from reconfiguring the Bixby button on the Galaxy S8.

The company has made a number of ambitious claims about the virtual assistant, which is being marketed as one of the phone’s key features.

In a move designed to help establish Bixby as a genuine rival to Google Assistant, Samsung even decided to equip the S8 with a physical Bixby button.

However, soon after the handset’s unveiling, it was discovered that a free app called All in one gestures could be used to reconfigure that button, to make it launch any other app.

Since Bixby doesn’t actually work as it should – Voice, arguably its main component, has been delayed – the ability to re-map the button was a handy option to have.

Unfortunately, it’s no longer available to customers.

XDA Developers reports that Samsung has blocked the ability to reconfigure the Bixby button with an over-the-air update.

Philip Berne, Samsung’s head of review for the US, has confirmed the move, saying, “It was exploiting a system-level behavior. That behavior has been changed. Can't say it will never happen, but we won't officially support.

“I can't say for sure why this behavior changed, but I can say that we are not supporting remapping that button.”

The company is, of course, well within its rights to make such a move, especially as Bixby needs all the help it can get at this early stage.

However, considering the virtual assistant's shortcomings, it feels like a small slap in the face for customers.