I’m just a bit of a technophile. I may not be able to afford to buy all the newest and greatest everything, but I adore exploring and playing with it whenever I get a chance. I adore my Samsung Galaxy SII, but the things the new versions can do absolutely blow me away. The S Pens in so many of the new devices make it far easier to navigate, especially for those of us with the Chicago winter who don’t want to take off our gloves to use our phones. Samsung, smartly, has come up with several apps that are designed to capitalize on the S Pens, most notably the Pen.Up app.
Pen.Up is available on the Google Play store for free for , and it comes preinstalled on the Note 3, which is the device that I used for my review. The thing that surprises me – and I’m sure I’m not alone – is that it doesn’t work on the Note tablets, only the phones. It’s designed to work with the S Pen, so in my mind it should function with all devices that offer an S Pen.
Pen.Up most reminds me of Instagram, although it’s intended to be used for artwork rather than for photos. There are, of course, users who upload photos rather than artwork because… that’s what people do. One of my favorite pieces on Pen.Up is an admonition that Pen.Up is NOT for selfies but is for artwork with a hand drawn mimic of a selfie. It’s a neat place for those who love art and love creating art to develop a community that allows for searching, tagging, following, commenting, liking, and more – just about any functionality you desire, with the exception of being able to edit within the app – so have your artwork ready to go before you upload it.
When you first open the app, you’re asked to create a profile just as you are with any other social networking sites. And just like those, you can upload your avatar and create a public bio for others who wish to connect with you. You can connect to Facebook and Twitter to expand the reach of your artwork and community, though I have chosen not to simply because… I’m not that good an artist. Instead, I appreciate others’ art.
To help maintain the integrity of your artwork, I like that you can add an artist’s mark of your choosing within your profile that you can include on all your artwork. That provides security without the necessity of creating multiple version of your art – one with a watermark and the original without.
Uploading your actual artwork is easy. You can upload something from your phone’s gallery – for example, if you created a piece of physical artwork that you took a photo of and wish to share with the world – or you can upload artwork that you’ve created on your Note phone using your S Pen from your S Gallery. Yes, the S Pen is sensitive and has a ton of functionality, but I’m still completely blown away by the talent of the artists and what they can create using their phones.
Once you’ve chosen the artwork you wish to upload, you title it just like any other piece of true art. You can also write a description of what it is, including hashtags that are searchable. Common and trending tags will pop up for you, so that you can help find ones that fit your artwork that are being used by others.
The most fun, of course, is seeing the reaction of others to your artwork. Just like with other social network, you can like uploaded items and provide comments on them. You receive an alert on your profile when you have likes and comments that you haven’t yet seen. It’s amazing how people are able to find the artwork you create, and it tends to be a very positive community.
On the flip side, you can also search for artwork that you can enjoy. When you first open the app, the feed shows a variety of artwork. If you’ve followed various artists, the feed will consist of their uploads. If not, it will provide a feed of other, recently uploaded artwork.
Searching via Pen.Up is another easy function. You can search artists, hashtags, and more – either the most common or specific ones you may be looking for. You can also browse common categories ranging from comics to political to scifi and more. Granted, the categories are chosen by the artists, so expect to see artwork that doesn’t necessarily fit the category simply because the artists know the categories get browsed and they’re more likely to get eyeballs on their uploads. I wish Samsung monitored the “popular” artwork within the categories and removed tags that were there simply to get more views so that the categories were more pure.
Pen.Up is still a new social media platform, but it’s a very cool one. Because it is available only on a limited number of devices from Samsung, it will never overtake some of the more popular networks out there, but there is most definitely a raison d’etre for this app. The community is supportive, and it’s a fantastic way to get some incredibly talented artists visibility of their artwork that they otherwise wouldn’t receive. The functionality is great for it’s purpose, and the app is well thought out.
I’m not a great artist. I know what I do well, and drawing is not amongst my talents. I still enjoy and appreciate the Pen.Up community and am fascinated by what I’ve discovered via the app. When I upgrade my SII, you can bet that I’ll make sure that not only is it another Samsung phone (because I absolutely adore what they’re doing) but one that has the S Pen and is compatible with the Pen.Up app and community. And you just might see some of my (or the wee ones’) artwork from time to time.