Yes, that title sounds equal parts confusing and equal parts ironic. Features for an unreleased smartphone found in software for an unreleased tablet. And yet that is the wonderful discovery that was unearthed from the firmware of the Galaxy Tab S4, which may launch after the Galaxy Note 9 at least. And although the pieces of new information don’t drastically change anything we have heard so far, it at least gives us a better picture of what this new Bluetooth-enabled S Pen will be able to do.
Truth be told, there is only so much you can do with only one button. It’ll mostly be limited to mapping an action to a single press and maybe a double press. XDA’s teardown of the Air Command app in the Galaxy Tab S4, however, does hint at what some of those actions could be.
There is, of course, controlling music, though it remains to be seen if Samsung will allow users to skip tracks (probably with a double press) in addition to pausing/resuming playback. As the earliest rumors suggested, you can also use it as a remote shutter. There is mention of actions in a range of apps but the question is how much that will be supported, both in Samsung’s apps and other Android apps.
The most curious feature suggested by the teardown, however, is being able to unlock the phone by pressing the S Pen button. The phrasing of the feature suggests that it’s only possible if the phone locks while you’re using it. It’s still going to be interesting to see if it will become an exploitable security hole.
But while these features are expected for the Galaxy Note 9, their presence in the Galaxy Tab S4’s version of Air Command may suggest that it might also support that new Bluetooth S Pen. If that’s the case, however, it will be interesting to see how Samsung will charge the S Pen without looking as ridiculous as an Apple Pencil.