You can set long press of home button to be the menu button which makes swiping up from home screen to open google now.
Right now, the only way to flash ROMs is to have your phone hardware s-off'd by sending it to sonic. He has a java card (dev tool) that can do it. No software exploits have been released yet though some are speculating that one has been found but won't be released until after the 4.3 update which is supposed to come in October.
Also, coming from the note 2, the one is just so much a sexier device to hold and use. Screen is amazing and battery life has been very good compared to my past phones (not named note 2).