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Samsung Galaxy Note 3's new software features detailed

Posted: , by Chris P.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3's new software features detailed

While it's quite possible that we're still affected by the unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that took place just moments ago, we're going to say it anyway: past the bleeding edge hardware, the new functionality that is set to come with the TouchWiz version of Android loaded on the Note 3 has us intrigued. And we mean that in an honest, but cautious way.

Our weariness of the subject isn't something new or exclusive – the traditional TouchWiz skin that Samsung slaps on top of stock Android on each and every device carrying its logo has made a quite a few enemies. The reasons for that couldn't be more clear cut: it's absolutely bloated, containing over 250 apps in its entirety. And although it's extremely feature-rich, we think that many agree that most of these are gimmicks and sometimes even worse: a complicated spin-off of an otherwise simple and intuitive functionality.

So what prompted this rollercoaster of seemingly conflicting statements that you saw above? Well, we'd obviously like to reserve the privilege of modifying our view on this later on, pending a hands-on review. Needed disclaimers aside, what Samsung's presentation showed us in terms of new functionality may just be what the South Korean company needs to finally scale the gap between promising, but ultimately gimmicky features and useful real-world application.

We'll be obviously going through these a number of times in the weeks to come, and we're sure beyond a shadow of doubt that time will tweak away, or outright enforce, a new way of looking at the latest slew of new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 features. Namely, and to start this off, a quick hover over the Note 3's screen, along with a click of the button on the S Pen stylus will now introduce a sort of a quick menu that Sammy is dubbing Air Command. The circular ring allows for a swift access to five actions that Samsung has deemed most important and useful:

  • Action Memo: taking the torch from S Memo, Action Memos see your handwritten input as more than just a static image. Write down somebody's phone number, and you can quickly fire off a call to him right from the app.

  • Scrapbook: a Samsung spin-off of apps such as Google Keep and Pocket, Scrapbook allows you to organize and track down content that you've curated from various sources.

  • Screen Write: captures a full-screen image of what you're looking at the moment, allowing you to then add comments or simply scribble away on top of it.

  • S Finder: functions as implied by allowing you to perform powerful searches across numerous categories. For example, you can search (and find, it is implied) for hand-written content in your notes and memo apps, as well as symbols and formulas.

  • Pen Window: by far the most interesting of the five, it reminds us of Sony's so-called 'Small Apps' idea. Basically, it allows you to outline an area as big or as small as you like, and then launch an app of your choice within those exact confinements. Sounds and looks great for a number of uses.

Speaking of interesting concepts, we can't wait to see how the new and improved Group Play handles real-life scenarios. Previously all about turning a bunch of Galaxy S4's into a chorus by playing music and audio files simultaneously, the new version will also allow you to share video, and most impressively – join in several Galaxy Note 3's to form one giant display. As gimmicky as it may sound, we have a feeling a fair number of people will be immediately sold on the new phablet, should the feature work seamlessly and as described.

Another newcomer to the version of TouchWiz powering the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a preloaded app called My Magazine, built in collaboration with the developers of Flipboard. Visually and functionally reminscent of the aforementioned stylish news aggregator, My Magazine has the added benefit of serving location-based, and therefore more relevant, content to users.

Other noteworthy features that we've heard about so far include:

  • Multi Window: improved over its predecessor, Multi Window is bound to increase productivity, or at least streamline the multitasking experience. It works by allowing you to have several windows up at once, even from the same type, meaning that you can chat with several people on your Samsung Galaxy Note 3 simultaneously, without having to tab out of anything. A very handy Drag and Drop command has also been incorporated into Multi Window, allowing you to copy and paste content, like text and images from one window to the other.

  • Samsung KNOX has dropped out of its mostly exclusive domain of business-to-business service, and is now available to your regular Joe, as well. Samsung KNOX provides system-level protection against malware, phishing and hacking attempts, making it a suitable BYOD to work (Bring Your Own Device). Moreover, the new and improved Find My Device service will let users completely disable their devices remotely, in cases of theft.

  • The Galaxy Note 3 will come preloaded with third-party applications, though its not exactly clear which, and how many, will make an appearance. Some of these include Evernote, Path, Line and eBay.

So are we headed towards a time when Samsung will finally manage to convince even the hardcore vanilla Android fans of the merits of its highly-customized TouchWiz? Unlikely, but if the slew of new functionality performs as well as they read on paper, then it'll certainly be a massive step forward for the in-house skin and Samsung, both.

  • Options

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 14:45 24

1. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

The new multi-window is a welcome upgrade.

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 16:39 4

22. ghaniosman (Posts: 78; Member since: 06 Jun 2013)

Wonder if the air command and air view works with fingers too !!

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 17:52 1

27. E.N. (Posts: 2610; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)

That would be cool if it would work, but I doubt it. Air view with fingers is 100x better and more practical than always relying on a stylus. I hate how you need the S-pen to use the new Pen Multitasking Window while on the G2 the pop-up apps are easily and much more quickly accessible via the pull-down menu. Just doesn't make much sense.

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 14:51 22

2. HalaMadrid (Posts: 92; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)

I love note 3 my next phone for sure ♥

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 14:54 1

3. ianbbaa (Posts: 332; Member since: 20 Mar 2013)

In the leaked pic of system apks, there was also ANT+ service apks, but not mentioned so far if NOTE3 has ANT+ support. Any clue??? I was happy to see ANT+service.apk in the system dump...

Anyway, nice device, nice functions, they take it right, if bloat or not, additional software is that what makes them shine. Evernote functionality - hopefully premium subscribtion for nopte buyers...customed twitter app for note 10,1...+ powerfull hardware...SAMSUNG put into shame all of those others...

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 14:55 1

4. timukh (Posts: 295; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)

Awesome device! In terms of specs and software it launches like a boss, but seriously samsung pls pls do change the design. Its not bad but not really an eye catcher!

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:01 9

7. Sauce (unregistered)

The note series aren't for me simply due to its size, but I am attracted to the leather on the back. Gorgeous. I'd love that on an S4. Finally a samsung flagship with some luxury feeling and design to it.

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 17:39 1

25. E.N. (Posts: 2610; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)

Size will definitely be an issue for a lot of people. I think the larger screen size will be an issue as well. With 5.7 inches, the Note 3 is at the awkward stage where its oversized for the typical smartphone apps in the Play Store while still unable to run tablet apps. Just doesn't make much sense.

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 19:03

32. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 2236; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)

It's funny, but the same people who will diss 720p as "not good enough" are the ones who will say "Android apps scale just fine." No, they do not, and while it may not be as pronounced as it is on tablets (Umm, awful?), it WILL be more noticeable than the difference between 720p and 1080p at 12".

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 14:57 6

5. goojman (Posts: 56; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

I'm drooling for the moment this Beast drops on At&t!!!

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 14:58 12

6. mayur007 (Posts: 577; Member since: 10 Apr 2012)

being updated with 4.3 out of the box is good rather than 4.2.2 then receive 4.3 update next year


posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:05

8. jad.boutary (Posts: 107; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)

Just a question.. why would you write the name and the phone number and then use action memo while u can save the contact directly to ur phone storage??

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:13 2

9. alexfiran (Posts: 40; Member since: 13 Jun 2013)

you're perfectly right. it's a lor easier just to write the number directly to your addressbook

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 16:11 1

18. ianbbaa (Posts: 332; Member since: 20 Mar 2013)

what if it is just a single call of somebody that I just don't want to have in my contacts...make a note, probably you better make a folder in that snote app where you will throw all of these single call number notes and you phone book is clear of unnecessary contacts...In case you added a memo/tag to that number you just noted, you probably will be able to find it even after year in your rubbish folder on snote app...I like to have my phone book c
an and organized...no single callers in there

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 16:20

21. jad.boutary (Posts: 107; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)

Really u want ur phone book clear but your note no?!
save it on ur phone book it's better you have at least 100 contact on ur phone so it 1% probability to see him while on ur notes its probability is much bigger at least 50%

oh another solution save it and after the call delete DUH!

posted on 05 Sep 2013, 00:37

39. joey_sfb (Posts: 6608; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

I write down to give the other party a miss call to exchange contact.

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:37 4

10. Sauce (unregistered)

I could see this practical use:

At Dunkin Donuts for some coffee. Bump into an old friend. Quickly whip out my phone and -write- down his number, in a rush to leave, order, etc. Later on upon arrival to my home, I open action memo and tap his number, calling him.


posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:39 1

11. jad.boutary (Posts: 107; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)

why don't you dial his number and hangup then go to your home save it and call him :P

Admit it this feature has no sense

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:45 2

13. DaNTRoN (Posts: 135; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)

You don't even need to call and hang up. Just put the number in dial pad and press home button. When you get home, open dial pad....

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:48

14. jad.boutary (Posts: 107; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)

haha good point


posted on 05 Sep 2013, 08:46 1

42. rodm963 (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 Sep 2013)

I dint know why you guys are fighting about something you don't understand the ability to pull the pen it opens the app you write its there.if you didn't place the call you receive another call bam its gone oops

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 16:01 1

17. Sauce (unregistered)

Very true, but what if I wanted to write this down, and could do it at a surprisingly fast rate?:

Mike Hunt
Call back for estimates

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 16:13 1

19. jad.boutary (Posts: 107; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)

Is this a real number?? :P

save it with a reminder it's better.. you may forget that note thing :P

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 22:06 1

35. iushnt (Posts: 2260; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)

u know writing is much easier and practical, When i need to note a number in hurry i still look for pen and paper if i am indoors.(working in office or studying) it may not be same with you but you should respect others preference too

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:42 1

12. Myrith (Posts: 57; Member since: 17 Feb 2012)

Heh, good point. Although, jotting something down is frequently a lot faster than typing, at least for me. (Which is why I use S Note instead of Springpad.) You might need to get the number quickly and then transfer to contacts later.

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:50

15. jad.boutary (Posts: 107; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)

to do so u have to take off the pen from its location in that time you had dialed the number and finished :P

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 16:17

20. E.N. (Posts: 2610; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)

Exactly. Pushing buttons with your thumb is also a whole lot faster than having to actually write on the screen.

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 22:09 2

36. iushnt (Posts: 2260; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)

believe me, if you haven't tried taking notes on galaxy notes using spen then try it. you will know what others are saying :)

posted on 05 Sep 2013, 09:28 1

43. McLTE (Posts: 922; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)

lol.. you guys are like a bunch of 5yr old kids arguing on the playground.

Summary: There are a MANY ways to record someone's phone number - I'm surprised you haven't said to send a text to yourself with the data - or email.. or.. or..

The bottom line is that the S-pen is useful and this feature IS and will be useful to some people.

Someone wants to give you their number and all you need to do is pull out the S-pen and the note is right there to write on. Can jot a note as well as the number, then save it for later.

You go ahead and use the dialer.. and when you receive a call before you get home and call the person, or forget and reboot your phone, or it crashes.. then what?

posted on 04 Sep 2013, 15:56 4

16. TreyTreyTaylor (Posts: 709; Member since: 21 Dec 2010)

This can't get here any quicker.

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