When I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus last year, I considered it the best android tablet I’d used to date. I decided to give it a fresh look due to a recent update which gave it some new features that further enhance the user experience and take extra advantage of the already excellent hardware.
The new update adds the ability for handwritten text in apps to appear as typed text. This is an excellent feature for those who like to use the S Pen to take notes and don’t have a dedicated keyboard accessory. Instead of typing a web address in the browser or a query in a search field, you can handwrite it and the new update will automatically change this into text.
It also works in apps like Samsung Notes with support for over 80 languages — basically, any language supported by the Samsung Keyboard. This means that anything you write will instantly be converted into digital text, including punctuation marks — you need to simply draw a ‘v’ between words to leave a space and draw ‘⌒’ to connect separate word.
Not all Tab S7 users may find this useful but what I think most people will find handy is the ability to use Samsung Notes to scan using the built-in cameras and edit documents. Simply tap the ‘Attach’ icon in the app, scan your document, and get to work making notes directly on the scanned document. This is ideal for those times where you get a document that you need to sign or fill out and then email back to the sender.
The new Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have a feature called 360 Audio that tracks your head movements and adjusts the direction of sound for a more immersive experience. This now works with the Tab S7 and S7+ and works similarly to Apple’s AirPods Pro Spacial Audio.
The 360 Audio will only work with the Buds Pro and Tab S7 and S7+ and Galaxy phones with One UI 3.1 or higher for now and has to be enabled via the Advanced setting in the Galaxy Wearable app. By doing so, the software will work with the Buds Pro to simulate a surround sound speaker setup when playing content that has 5.1 audio.
The Buds Pro and Tab S7 combo also add head-tracking thanks to the gyros and accelerometers built into the earbuds. This works like the AirPods Pro by making it sound as if the direction of the audio is always coming from the tablet. When you move your head to the left or right, the sound will stay positioned in the 3D soundstage where the tablet is located.
Compared to Apple’s version, the Buds Pro track a little faster whereas the AirPods Pro track the sound smoother. This means that if you move your head fast, it takes a split second for the audio to keep up. That might not sound as good, but in reality, it’s less jarring than the Buds Pro method. It would be nice to see this updated so that you can control the speed of the head tracking.
360 Audio will only work on movies or TV shows that support 5.1 but not 360 audio music. The end result is a more immersive experience on shows that make the most of surround sound. In particular, action movies work well but moves with a lot of dialogue are less effective.
If you already own the Galaxy Buds Pro and Tab S7/S7+ this is a nice update but it doesn’t work as well as Apple’s implementation of Spacial Audio. That being said, I expect it will improve with further updates.
The new pen to text features are a welcome addition but their usefulness will depend on how heavily you use the S Pen. I don’t think either the 360 Audio or S Pen updates are must-have features but a nice free bonus all the same.