The first is Live Messages — a feature that is far more entertaining than it is functional. If you have the messaging app open, you can pull out the pen and tap Live message, which will allow you to select different pens, draw on a black screen, and then send your message to whomever you’re texting as a GIF. This means that, unlike iMessage, anyone can see your animated message (regardless of their device). You can also change the background color or set a photo from your camera roll as the background, in case you want draw on top of pictures of your friends and family.
The next feature you should be aware of is Offscreen Memo, an extremely functional tool for jotting down notes on the fly. The concept is simple — if you pull out the S Pen when the screen is off, you’ll immediately be able to start writing notes on the lock screen. Sure, you can take notes with any phone using the apt-titled notes app, but opting for Offscreen Memo is significantly faster … so long as you can decipher your own handwriting. Once you’re finished with your note, the Note 8 will automatically save it to your notepad.
You can also take notes in a more traditional manner using the Note 8. Again, you can easily take notes on any phone, but the S Pen makes for a more precise input method, one that allows you to draw more intricate things and brainstorm ideas you can quickly pull up later.
Not all of the S Pen’s hallmarks are tied to drawing and writing, however. For instance, there may be a time when you need to use a desktop version of a site to access a specific set of features. To access reports in the YouTube backend or Google Analytics, for example, you’ll need to tap the three horizontal dots in the upper-right corner when viewing the mobile site. Afterward, tap Request desktop site from the resulting menu. The benefit of using the S Pen is precision — it allows you to navigate far easier (no pinching required).
Moreover, if you hover over items on a given site using the S Pen, you can implement the same trigger your mouse would, at least if you’re using Samsung’s browser or one of several third-party offerings (Chrome excluded). Doing so allows you to bring up drop-down menus, highlight info, and carry out a host of other actions.
There plenty of other benefits to Samsung‘s stylus — it even features a button with welcome, tactical feedback — but few are as convenient and useful as those outlined above. Now, all you need to do is comb our roundup of the best Galaxy Note 8 tips and tricks to further familiarize yourself with Samsung’s latest offering.
David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him on Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.