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Galaxy S8's Bixby Unleashed on Older Samsung Phones

Samsung's highly anticipated virtual personal assistant Bixby has already landed on more devices than expected. But this is not with Samsung's blessing.

Bixby Vision on a Galaxy S8. Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Bixby Vision on a Galaxy S8. Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide)

A person using the handle "takerhbk" in a forum on XDA-Developers has been able to get Bixby working on a Galaxy S8 launcher that leaked to the Web recently. The forum user, whose work was earlier reported on by Venturebeat, then shared his work with other developers, who were able to get Bixby running on Samsung's Galaxy S7.

In order to actually install Bixby on an older handset, you'll need the Android Package Kit (APK) file for Samsung's virtual personal assistant, as well as a package kit for the launcher. Once those kits are installed, you can start running Bixby and trying out the features, according to the developers.

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However, installing APKs is not necessarily for the faint of heart and in some cases, haven't been verified to ensure they're safe and secure and won't wreak havoc on your handset.

Still, the hack is a notable one.

Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S8 last week at a press event in New York City. Alongside the device, which comes with massive screens measuring 5.8 inches and 6.2 inches for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, respectively, you'll find smaller bezels around the display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 inside. It's also the first device to run Samsung's Bixby.

Bixby offers a slew of features that could trump other virtual assistants. You can aim your Galaxy S8's camera at an item and get shopping help. Samsung's Bixby can also translate other languages on the fly and is capable of handling sophisticated requests, such as sending the last photo you took to a specific contact or beaming a video you're watching to your TV.

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However, Samsung has at least so far only planned to offer Bixby in the Galaxy S8 line. In fact, the virtual assistant is activated with a physical button on the left that you won't find in older devices like the Galaxy S7.

But those who want to use Bixby were sure to devise other ways to get the virtual assistant up and running. And it appears they've already succeeded. At least for now.

Bixby is slated to get its official release on April 21 when the Galaxy S8 hits store shelves.

Don Reisinger is a communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter who has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Tom's Guide.