Steve Jobs said the best stylus is a finger. Samsung disagrees, and so do these apps
One of my favorite features of the Galaxy Note 4 (and one of the coolest things to happen to smartphones ever) is the S Pen. It's not a stylus. Instead think of it as a smart, pressure sensitive accessory that's paired with hardware and software on the Note 4 to make for a really good input device.
With the Note 4, we see huge improvements (and real life improvements, not just spec-sheet mumbo jumbo) in the sensitivity of the S Pen and how smooth it works. It's a great addition to any large-screen device, and one you really need to use to appreciate.
Here are some great apps to use it and see!
1. Scribble Racer
We're going to start with a game, because Scribble Racer is a really cool and fun game that uses the S Pen — something we don't see a lot of just yet. It's delightfully simple, amazingly addictive, and incredibly fun. You use the S Pen to plot a course on a track as it scrolls by. Hit the wall and it's game over. Of course, there are bonuses strategically placed in areas where you'll hit the wall if you're not careful, shaming you for your greedy ways.
Scribble Racer is free, but extra tracks can be bought with in-app purchases. Give this one a try, and blame me for all the time that will be wasted!
Download: Scribble Racer (Free; in-app purchases)
2. Autodesk SketchBook
SketchBook is pretty much the ultimate drawing app for Android, and a special S Pen enhanced version is available for free on your Note 4.
You'll find all the non-destructive drawing tools you need, each with its own settings like width and stroke, and in-app purchases let you buy pro level tools like layers and selection tools to make creating your next masterpiece fun and easy. You've probably seen some of those videos where awesome people draw awesome things with the S Pen. This is the application most of them are using.
The download link below will get you a copy of SketchBook for any Android, but if you have a Note 4 you'll find a pre-installed stub in the Galaxy Apps section.
Download: Autodesk SketchBook (Free; in-app purchases)
3. S Pen Launcher
Pulling out the handy S Pen gives you a nifty little circular menu, filled with the things Samsung thinks you'll want to do, right on your screen. S Pen Launcher adds a custom menu where you can define which shortcuts and applications are shown. It looks like any other folder, but it's only shown when you pull out the S Pen. Once you see it, tap any icon to jump straight to the associated task.
Originally designed for the Note 2 and Note tablets, it works well on the Note 3 and Note 4, too. You will have to either enable some ads in the settings panel or spend $0.99 as an in-app purchase to enable unlimited additions to the menu. If you're looking for a way to jump right into certain apps when you remove the S Pen, this is the best way to do it.
Download: S Pen Launcher (Free; ad-supported or in-app purchases to unlock all features)
Normally, I would never recommend an app that duplicates functions of an app that is already preinstalled on your phone. I have to make an exception for INKredible, though. It's a handwriting and freeform drawing app that makes the S Pen and glass screen experience almost as good as "real" pen and paper.
You have control over the virtual pen "nibs" (as well as a full selection of styles available through in-app purchases), deciding how thick or wet the writing will be. You also have precise controls for layouts and a full library feature. Best of all, things are saved as true vector graphics so they can be resized or printed.
This is the best app for people who want to get a little creative with their prose.
Download: INKcredible (Free; in-app purchases)
5. Adobe Photoshop Touch
The premier image editing software for both the PC and the Mac has been available for Android for quite some time. It really shines when paired with the Note 4's S Pen.
Full-scale image editing right on your phone, including things like layers and magic brushes that Photoshop is known for. There's a reason why all the pros use Photoshop.
While the experience isn't exactly the same — there's no way even the biggest and best phone could handle everything included in the desktop version of Photoshop — the mobile offering, especially when paired with the precision of the S Pen, is very similar. You're even tied into Adobe's image cloud, and can hand off images from full-blown photoshop to your phone. It's powerful, and designed for people who need a powerful image editor.
Download: Adobe Photoshop Touch ($4.99)