Some of us have never gotten over our love of pencils and pens, and Samsung’s latest Note 20 phones are here to scratch it. They cost quite a penny ($ 1300 for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra), but now you can do even more useful things with the S Pen, provided you can sort out the myriad features Samsung packages with the phones. Here are eight great features of Samsung’s new S Pen to get you started.
Air Actions, one of Samsung’s signature S Pen features, is back on the Note 20 with even more functionality. You can use the S Pen button to turn on the camera (long press) and take pictures (short press). It also supports more apps including Samsung AR Doodle, Samsung Gallery, Snapchat and Spotify. The gestures vary depending on the app, so be sure to check the details below Settings> Advanced Features> S Pen> Air Actions.
S Pen can also control the media when you play something in the background. Just press the button and draw a line that goes up 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’re all been there: You’re in the middle of reading something and your phone hangs. On note 20, there is a simple solution for that. 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 must ensure that this feature is enabled during Settings> Advanced Features> S Pen. If the phone is now idle, you can press the button to wake it up. The phone remains unlocked until you disconnect or replace the S Pen.
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Samsung is trying to help with Air Command, but you probably do not want this full screen interface to bother you every time you remove the S Pen. Since this is the default behavior, you will need to make some changes. To get started, go to Settings> Advanced Features> S Pen.
The Air Command settings are near the bottom. You can change the delete line to “Do nothing” to prevent Air Command from interfering with you. You can instead click the S Pen button to start it whenever you want. Note 20 also supports changing Air Command apps and shortcuts in this menu. Samsung has some custom tools like Magnify and Live Messages, but you can also just add app shortcuts.
Samsung has expanded the features of the S Pen accelerometer, so you can control more aspects of the phone with a hand wave. Anywhere Actions are gestures that work no matter where you are or what you do with the phone. However, they take some practice to get used to.
The settings for Anywhere Actions (and cheat sheets) can be found below Settings> Advanced Features> S Pen> Air Actions. You mainly draw arrows while holding the S Pen button: down and then up for smart selection, up and down for home and so on. They work well enough, but you have to remember which one is which.
Add sound to notes
Note 20 does not have a standalone voice recorder app pre-installed, but that feature is included in Samsung Notes. This allows recordings to integrate sound with the notes you note with the S Pen. And you do not need to set this – just start writing a note and press the “Attach” button to add a voice recording. When you go back and listen to the recording, you can see your notes highlighted when the sound is played. This will help you 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 smashing with a software keyboard. You also do not have to worry about where or how to type in the Samsung Notes app. Just write, and you can straighten the note afterwards. To straighten your typing, press the straightening button in the lower toolbar – it looks like a three-line text with an arrow above.
The new Samsung Notes app is powerful, but you do not always have to open the app to write something down. You can also just remove the S Pen while the phone is asleep and start typing with the screen off function. You do not get the full suite of Notes functionality, but the memo will appear in that app with a dark background to indicate that it was an add-on to the screen. You can change it in the app settings so that your screen memes appear as “normal”.
Sync your notes
So you have taken all these notes with your S Pen, but what happens if you drop or damage the phone? The Notes app now has Live Sync to keep all your notes safe in the cloud. This is mostly automatically, but you must make sure you are logged in with your Samsung account in the Notes settings. With that done, you can access your content from a tablet or computer in addition to your phone. You can also link your Samsung Cloud storage when Microsoft OneDrive below Settings> Accounts & Backup> Samsung Cloud.