After the official release of ICS 4.0.3 update for Galaxy Note in May and ICS 4.0.4 update last week, some users asked me what the new features are. Thanks to Samsung’s Touch Viz UI, most users will not visually find any changes after the update. Here I prepared the top 10 new features in your Galaxy Note after the ICS update.
Each update fixes some bugs and the performance should be improved, so we usually recommend users to apply the update, although some new problems may be reported, e.g. battery issues, RAM issues. Given the short lifespan (1-3 years) of samrtphones, it is impractical to wait for the perfect firmware.
In this post I will try to introduce you the features. I will create tutorials for some of these features later.
1. Pop- up play (ICS 4.0.4 update is needed)
Pop up play was debuted on Galaxy S3 last May. In the Googl Play store, there are a few paid apps (e.g., Stick it! (Pop-up Player)) doing the similar job. What it does is quite simple, you can watch your video and use other apps at the same time. The video will be re-sized as thumbnail and you can move it to any locations on your screen. Pretty cool, right?
Of course, only the built-in video player support this. Once the video is open, you can find the re-sizing (or pop up play?) button in the top right corner. If you want to stop the video, just touch the video area and release your finger. If you want to go to full screen, you can long press the home button to get the task manager and open the video player.
Two limitations: 1). the size of the video cannot be adjusted, at lest I did not find any ways to adjust it; 2).
If you want to go back to full screen, the video will be played from the beginning, not from where you stop in the pop up play mode. Thanks to julien for correcting me. (Tap the video, it will go back to the full screen and continue.)
2. S Note
S Note is part of the Samsung’s Premium Suite for Galaxy Note and is installed as part of ICS update. It comes with 6 samples, 6-page S Note Tips, and a 6-page productivity Tools Tips. So, you can start to use it quite easily.
With S Note, you can directly convert your handwriting into text, convert your drawing into polygonal shapes, and convert your writing into mathematical formulas. You can even import PDF file for annotation!
After the ICS update, you should be able to find this app among your applications.
3. My Story
My Story is also part of the Premium Suite for Galaxy Note. But it is not installed automatically during your ICS update. You can download it either from Samsung Apps or Google Play store (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sec.android.app.mystory)
This apps help you create multimedia letter or a card or an album. It comes with 4 templates (birthday, thank you, letter in a bottle, ans memory).
This apps need verify your phone number. So, when you open it first time, it will ask your phone number and a verification code will be sms to you. So, remember to provide correct phone number, especially country code.
4. Face unlock
Face unlock is a standard feature in ICS (Android 4.0). You can unlock your phone by using your face (and the front camera). You can turn on this by going to settings–security–screen lock. Of course, if the light is so weak, you cannot use this feature. So, your Galaxy Note will ask you to setup PIN or password as well in case your face is not recognized.
In ICS, notification is significantly improved. Shortcut for Settings is added there. From the lock screen, you can also launch apps directly.
6. Data usage monitor
For people with data quota, monitoring mobile data usage is important to avoid hefty and stupid charges from the greedy telecom operators. In the past, you may use some apps, e.g. 3G Watchdog to monitor the data usage. Now, it is not necessary.
Under settings, now you can find Data Usage. All your data usage will be reported here. You can set the limit, and disable background data if your data quota is very low.
7. Developers options
Occasionally, some background processes (usually from poorly written apps) may drain your battery quite quickly, and hog on the ram. So, your system may be not so responsive. IN ICS, you can go to Settings–Developer options to setup the background process limit. You can choose No Background processes as a test if you suspect the battery drain is due to background process. Normally, you should not choose no background processes, as Android system may need this function to improve performance.
Under developers options, you have a quite a lot advanced controls, e.g., show CPU usage, or force GPU rendering.
8. Quick access to task manager/ Swipe to close
At any time, long press Home button, you will get the task manger (pop up). From the thumbnail list of running and recent apps, you can swipe to left or right to close it . Touch it once to open the corresponding app.
9. Signature unlock (ICS 4.0.4 is required)
This is a cool feature, although not so useful. You can unlock your phone with your S Pen by signing on the screen. That’s it.
You can set it up from Settings–Security–Screen lock.
10. Chrome browser
ICS has a improved web browser. You can open up to
16 8 tabs (thanks for Thomas who found we can actually open 8 tabs in Galaxy Note, not 16, It seems Samsung gave us 50% discount.). It sounds good?
Even better, you install Chrome browser ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.android.chrome) on your Galaxy Note. It is super fast and you can even share the bookmarks and browser windows with your desktop!.
Any comments? please post in the comments section below or in our Galaxy Note forum.