Maintenance releases are always appreciated since they add - in most cases - further features and enhancements to smartphones and today's released Samsung Galaxy Note maintenance release is nothing different. The Samsung engineers really took some time to think about how to improve the Android smartphone's overall functionality and user friendliness and the result is a maintenance release for the Note which adds some worth enhancements. From the lock-screen to regional settings in calendar to the keyboard, Samsung really tried to optimized the Galaxy Note as much as possible. Also on-board now is a new torch widget which allows the easy and convenient use of the LED flash as a torch.
- So far it was a little bit unclear for new Samsung users how to unlock the device screen (left screenshot bellow). With the new release (right screenshot bellow), Samsung added a note on the bottom of the screen.
This is also including a new visual information (above right) how to get the screen unlocked.
- Also new and not unimportant for a device with such a big screen like the Galaxy Note is the change, that users don't have to do big moves anymore to get the screen unlocked (outer circle on the left screenshot bellow).
But now it's enough to slightly slide the thumb to get the screen unlocked (inner circle on the right screenshot above).
- Also new are the date display changes in the Calendar which is more important for Korean users. So far, the date was always shown as day/month/year (left screenshot bellow).
However, in Korea year/month/day is typically used which is now fixed since the calendar is now showing the date format according to the phone language.
- The Galaxy Note is one of the smartphones with a bigger display which should give enough room for extra information. However, so far Samsung used its standard Android keyboard which lacked the number keys in standard QWERTY mode (left screenshot bellow).
Since the Galaxy Note has plenty of space, the maintenance release now received the number keys on top of the letter keys (right screenshot above).
- Also related to the size of the screen is the optimization of the one-hand-usage. So far, the keyboard and dial-pad took all the width space in portrait mode which made one hand typing somewhat difficult (left screenshot bellow).
The new "one hand operation" option shrinks the keyboard and dial-pad and aligns it either left or right, which allows perfect left hand and right hand usage (right screenshots above).
- Also optimized was the screen brightness for web browsing. So far, the same screen brightness was used in all apps (left screenshot bellow).
The browser screen brightness can now be optimized even further which allows to save even more battery power (right screenshot above).
- Last but not least is the Galaxy Note now featuring a dedicated torch widget for the homescreen (right screenshot bellow).
So far, the torch function had to be enabled through the settings menu where it was well hidden (left screenshot above) The new torch widget even supports three levels of brightness (by tapping the widget up to three times).
While the Galaxy Note maintenance release is not yet the promised Android 4.0/Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade but still based on Android 2.3.6/Gingerbread, it's definitely worth the improvements. The update is now rolled-out across Europe and available for all open market devices as a FOTA (Firmware Over The Air) update, no KIES required. It's around 70 MB so better make sure to have a flat data connection or update via WiFi. As always, it depends on the carriers if they are also going to offer this maintenance release for devices sold through their channels.
Cheers ~ Arne