If the only interaction you’ve had with a stylus on a smartphone is through a generic capacitive wand, you don’t know what you’re missing when it comes to a device with dedicated stylus digitizer hardware. That’s the type of setup Samsung uses in its Galaxy Note series, allowing these phablets and tablets to track their S Pen styluses with incredible precision, support button input on the pens themselves, and recognize varying levels of pressure. In recent models, Note devices have been able to detect input when you’re not even directly touching the screen, allowing the software to perform special tasks as part of what Samsung calls Air View functionality. At CES this year, the manufacturer shared news of a cute little tweak coming to its Note lineup, letting you customize what you see when hovering over the screen.
Traditionally, Samsung models have displayed a little blue circle to let you know they’re detecting the presence of the S Pen (or even your finger) being held over the screen. As you move the stylus around, the circle follows your movements: simple, direct… and kind of boring. But soon you’ll be able to give that plain circle a bit more flavor, as Samsung reveals coming support for what it calls Penvatars.
With the Penvatar software present, users will be able to select from a gallery of icons to assign in place of that blue circle. They’re not just all circles, either, letting you swap that out for a finer-tipped pointer icon. And because Samsung’s got a big tie-in promo deal with the upcoming Marvel Avengers film, the icons you’ll find will include a lot of licensed character art.
There’s no word yet on when Penvatars will be available, whether or not they’ll support all Note models with Air View (we’ve heard claims that this could be Note 4 and Edge-only, but nothing formal from Samsung), nor what, if anything extra, the app might cost. We know, it’s all ultimately of little consequence, but it’s still a neat tweak to an already-useful feature.