Samsung's S-Pen comes packed with a bunch of neat little features, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 launch added to the impressive list of tricks. One of the new features is Air Actions, which is an extension of the S-Pen remote control functionality introduced with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Samsung Air Actions lets you use your S-Pen as a wall in apps and control what they do with a swipe. This is a guide to how to configure and use this new feature. Or, if you'd rather check out the official tutorial, Samsung also has a tutorial available online.
Samsung Air Actions vs Air Command
How to activate Air Actions
Air Actions are active by default without any input needed from you. However, you can enable and disable the feature in the Settings menu. Simply navigate to Settings then Advanced Features and then S-Pen . Air Actions should be the top option from there.
The feature auto-activates in the appropriate apps. The S-Pen bubble icon along the right edge is gray and transparent when Air Actions is not available, and it changes to purple when functionality is available. It will change colors automatically so there is nothing you need to do in order to turn it on aside from opening a compatible app.
How to use Air Actions
The basic use of Air Actions is simple:
- Press and hold the S-Pen button.
- Quickly perform the gesture.
- Quickly let go of the S-Pen button.  You should attempt to perform all three steps in one smooth motion, otherwise the gesture may not work. It takes a few tries to get the hang of it, so don't get too discouraged if you can't get it right every time right off the bat.
A total of six gestures can be performed in any given app . They include u p down left and right gestures along with the clockwise and counterclockwise spin gestures. These gestures do different things in different apps.
Clockwise and counterclockwise gestures aren't available in media apps like they are in natively compatible apps like Samsung's Camera app.
To see the control schemes of any given app, simply tap the floating Air Actions icon on the right edge of the screen. You can also hover the S-Pen tip about the same icon for a quick reference pop-up if you need it.
Configuring Air Actions
The Air Actions section in the Settings menu allows you to customize the gesture controls. Here's how to do it:
- Navigate to Settings scroll down to Advanced Features then tap the S-Pen option followed the Air Actions option.
- The UI shows you every app on your device with support for the air gestures. Tap the icon of the app you want to customize.
- Scroll down to the Gestures section and configure the up down left and right gestures along with the clockwise and counterclockwise gestures. You can also configure single tap and double tap or the S-Pen button.
- You can exit the menu once you finish and your changes will automatically save.
There are eight total spots for actions between the two S-Pen button press options and the six gesture control options. To be frank, most apps don't have eight different assignable actions. Thus, you may end up doubling up or leaving some of the gesture control options blank.
This is a complicated answer because there are actually two lists or compatible apps. The first are the ones you find in the Air Actions section of the Settings menu. They include apps like Samsung Camera or Google Chrome. Each app is listed in the Settings menu and can be individually configured.
The second set is basically every media player app on Google Play. Samsung has a set of universal Air Actions for all media apps. It worked with my podcast player, my music player, and YouTube with all of the same controls.
Almost all media player apps use a single, universal set of controls.
You can access the media player gesture controls in the same area of the Settings as the other compatible apps. It shows up at the bottom of the Air Actions section of the Settings under the General controls section with the Media label.
You can configure the gestures, single press, and double press actions like any other compatible app. However, any changes you make reflect in every media player app. Plus, media player apps don't seem to have clockwise and counterclockwise gestures like natively compatible apps.
App support is limited to a handful of Samsung apps along with a few others. However, it should work with virtually any music, video, or podcast app.
There is not a full list of compatible apps available anywhere, although the India version or Samsung's website lists a few. Short or trial and error, there is no way to list all of them. However, we do know that Netflix, YouTube, Snapchat, Google Chrome, Spotify, and a handful of Samsung apps work with the feature. Additionally, every media player app should also work with Air Actions.
How does it feel?
Samsung's Air Actions are a little bit reminiscent of the LG G8's hand gestures. It's quite finicky at first until you get used to it and then it works rather well. Unlike the LG G8, these gestures don't require you to have the S-Pen directly in front of the phone. Thus, you can use the gestures anywhere as long as the S-Pen is still wirelessly connected to the phone.
It definitely works consistently enough for the basic controls like switching the camera to selfie mode and then taking a picture. We also quite liked its ability to skip tracks in media players (forward and backward), pause media, and going to previous web pages when using Chrome. For simple, one-off tasks like that, the Air Actions feature really shines.
Air Action's biggest flaw
Using the volume down gesture 15 times to go from max volume to mute is exceedingly tedious and not recommended.
The same story goes for the camera zoom, scrolling in Google Chrome, or any other activities with the capacity for a lot of repetition. Being able to only move one increment per gesture makes repetitive tasks tedious and borderline obnoxious unless you're only adjusting by one or two increments.
Or course, we'd like to see the feature work with more apps and do other crazy things, but we probably won't see anything like that until the Samsung Galaxy Note 11. Aside from its inability to properly deal with highly repetitive actions, we found the Air Actions feature to work smoothly and consistently after a letter learning period.  The Air Actions feature feels like the start of some really cool things for the S-Pen. However, this is only the second iteration of the S-Pen remote capabilities so we weren't expecting anything too crazy this early in the development process. We certainly hope Samsung improves on this feature in the years to come. Tell us what you think in the comments!