A Look at the Galaxy Note 8’s New & Improved Software Features

A Look at the Galaxy Note 8’s New & Improved Software Features

After waiting for so many months without a Note device (besides the Note FE), Samsung finally released the Galaxy Note 8, much to the delight of Note-loyalists. The Note 8 merges Samsung’s new design language with all that we’ve come to expect from a Note device. And it does so while shouldering the responsibility of lifting the Note branding after the tragic events that marred last year’s release. To ensure the Note 8 gets all the positive attention it can get, Samsung has focused a fair share on the software capabilities of the new Note.

Note 8 S Pen and Related Features

Most of what is new in the Note 8’s software relates to the S Pen, and rightfully so too. The S Pen is what sets apart the Note 8 from the S8+, so it makes sense for Samsung to ensure that the Note retains its edge in an area where the S8+ cannot touch it in terms of product placement. While the S Pen is not new, some of the features it currently enables on the Note 8 are certainly new.


One such feature is Live Message, which attempts to bring the procedural characteristic of handwritten notes into the digital format through animation. You can either tap the heart-shaped key on the keyboard or activate the function via Air Command, and start writing down an animated message. These messages can utilize live emojis and various pen effects, and can be shared across platforms as Animated GIFs of up to 15 seconds in length.

The next set of improvements come to Screen off memo, which allows users to create and pin memos on the Always On Display. This feature is not wholly new, but unique in the sense as users just need to remove the S Pen from the device, and they are ready to start writing down notes without needing to turn on the display or open any application. What’s new to the Note 8 is the ability to create up to 100 pages of notes, as well as go back to notes pinned on the Always On Display to make edits.

While the S Pen has its uses for writing stuff down, you can even hover the Pen above the display to get access to different sets of features. One such feature is Translate, which allows users to hover over words to translate them in up to 71 languages (with identification limited to 36 languages). The feature also utilizes OCR technology to recognize words from images, so you don’t strictly need typed text to use this feature. On the Note 8, the Translate feature can recognize punctuation marks, allowing it to translate entire sentences when prompted to do so by the user. The S Pen can also convert units of measurement and foreign currencies.

Samsung is also tapping hard into the creative uses of the S Pen, as it now attempts to bring together users to share their own digital artworks. The Note 8 comes preloaded with the PEN.UP app from previous devices, which describes itself as a global community of more than 2.7 million users that share their creations with each other. Samsung has also released the PEN.UP SDK to help developers integrate PEN.UP features into their applications. Features like deep linking will help users of the community discover drawing applications which were used to create specific artworks, helping provide a wider audience to these applications.

Apps Edge

A highlight of the additions to the Edge display functionality is App Pair — the ability to pair two applications in Apps Edge. Once paired, when these apps are opened from Apps Edge, they will always launch together in split-screen mode. This will make it easy to access apps that are often used in split screen, and it also brings into focus the Note 8’s large display with its 18.5:9 aspect ratio that makes it a good candidate for split screen multitasking.


The software additions extend onto the newest hardware addition — the dual rear cameras. The new Live Focus allows users to set and adjust the intensity of background blur of captured images, both before and after the photo is taken.

Dual Capture mode on the Note 8 puts both the rear camera to work simultaneously to capture two separate images — one close-up shot from the telephoto lens and one wide-angle shot that shows the entire background.


The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comes with Samsung Knox 2.9, the latest version of Samsung’s defense-grade security platform. Samsung has added in new features to make Knox more manageable and more secure than ever before — reaffirming Knox’s place as the leading security solution for personal and professional users.

With the new Knox in place, users can now back up their Secure Folder remotely, enabling them to access or wipe data inside the folder if the device has been lost. With App Permission Monitor, users can receive a notification when background apps try to access camera, microphone, video recorder and SMS features.

Knox 2.9 also features an updated Customization SDK optimizes the home screen to help developers further tailor vertical-specific applications to Samsung devices. USB class control allows enterprises to enable or disable USB modes on an employee’s device, minimizing security concerns when connecting to an external source. Memory layout isolation and randomization adds an additional layer of protection from memory exploits by separating personal and system apps.

While Knox very often directly hinders with what we try to achieve here on XDA-Developers, there is no denying that the existence of Knox is what has helped Samsung become one of the preferred choices for enterprise users. Note that Knox 2.9 is not exclusive to the Note 8, as it will be eventually be updated across older Galaxy devices running Knox 2.4 and above.

What are your thoughts on the newest software additions to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8? Do these features and the rest of the software package make the device an attractive purchase? Let us know in the comments below!

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

A journalist at XDA-Developers and the current Editor in Chief, I have been writing for XDA since 2015, despite being a qualified business-litigation lawyer. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news and tutorials, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected] or on Twitter (@aamirsidd94).

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