Some of us have just never gotten over our love of pens and pencils, and the latest Samsung Note 20 phones are here to help ease that itch. They cost a pretty penny ($ 1,300 for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra), but now you can do even more useful things with the S Pen, assuming you can sort Samsung’s myriad of features with the phones. Here are eight great features on Samsung’s new S Pen to get you started.
Air Actions, one of Samsung’s signature S Pen functions, is available again on the Note 20 with even more functions. With the S Pen button you can start the camera (long press) and take photos (short press). Other apps are also supported, including Samsung AR Doodle, Samsung Gallery, Snapchat and Spotify. The gestures vary depending on the app. So check the details below Settings> Advanced Features> S Pen> Aerial Actions.
The S Pen can also control media when something is playing in the background. Just press the button and draw a line in the air to increase the volume. Go down to decrease the volume, right to skip a track, and left to go back.
Unlock with S Pen
We were all there: you are reading something and your phone goes to sleep. There is a simple solution to this on the Note 20. You can use the button on your S Pen to wake up the screen again if you happen to have it in your hand. You have to make sure that this function is activated under Settings> Advanced Features> S Pen. When the phone goes to sleep, you can press the key to wake it up. The phone will stay unlocked until you disconnect or reinsert the S-pen.
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Samsung tries to help with Air Command, but you probably don’t want this full-screen interface to interrupt you every time you remove the S Pen. Since this is the default behavior, there are a few changes you need to make. To get started, go to Settings> Advanced Features> S Pen.
The Air Command settings are below. You can change the distance line to “Do nothing” to prevent Air Command from interrupting you. Instead, you can click the S Pen button to launch it whenever you want. The Note 20 also supports changing the apps and shortcuts in Air Command from this menu. Samsung has some custom tools like Zoom In and Live News, but you can just add app shortcuts too.
Samsung has expanded the capabilities of the S Pen’s accelerometer so you can control more aspects of the phone with one flick of the hand. Everywhere Actions are gestures that work no matter where you are or what you’re doing on the phone. However, you will need a little practice to get used to it.
The settings for Actions Everywhere (and the cheat sheet) can be found at Settings> Advanced Features> S Pen> Aerial Actions. You essentially draw arrows while holding the S Pen button: down and then up for smart selection, up and down for home, etc. They work well enough, but you need to remember which one which is.
Add audio to notes
The Note 20 does not have a standalone voice recorder app preinstalled, but this functionality is included in Samsung Notes. This allows recordings to incorporate audio into the notes you take with the S Pen. And you don’t have to set this up – just write a note and tap the Attach button to add a voice recording. If you go back and listen to the recording, you can highlight your notes as the audio plays. That way, you can remember exactly what you heard when you wrote the note.
One of the best things about the S Pen is that you can write down a quick note without fiddling with a software keyboard. You don’t have to worry about where or how to write in the Samsung Notes app either. Just write and you can straighten the note afterwards. To straighten the writing, tap the Straighten button on the bottom toolbar. It looks like three lines of text with an arrow above it.
The new Samsung Notes app is powerful, but you don’t always have to open the app to write something down. You can also just remove the S-Pen while the phone is sleeping and start using the memos turn off feature. You don’t get the full suite of Notes features, but the memo is displayed with a dark background in this app to indicate that it is a screen-off addition. You can change this in the app settings so that your screen-off memos are displayed “normally”.
Sync your notes
You have made all of these notes with your S-Pen, but what if you lose or damage the phone? The Notes app now has Live Sync to keep all of your notes safe in the cloud. This is most of time automatically, but you need to make sure you are signed in with your Samsung account in Notes Settings. This allows you to access your content from a tablet or PC in addition to your phone. You can also link your Samsung cloud storage under Microsoft OneDrive under Settings> Accounts and backup> Samsung Cloud.