Let’s see if you can spot the difference: On the iPhone 4S, someone asks Siri to “wake me up in one hour,” and Siri works out the time to set the alarm, interpreting the natural language keywords “wake me up” as “set an alarm.” For Samsung’s Galaxy S III’s S Voice feature, the user seems to be specifying simpler keywords: “Set alarm.” What time? “9:00am.”
What’s novel about Siri isn’t the fact that “she” can accept voice input—computers have been doing that for years. Siri is special because the software can extract and interpret commands from quasi-conversational phrases like “Tell me if it will be sunny this weekend in Miami.” If S Voice can’t do the interpretation, the anyone using the service will have to keep the compatible keywords in mind. While commands might sound faster on paper, it’s a lot easier to tell Siri what you want in one shot then to spend a few extra seconds fiddling with verbal commands.
Siri also remembers context. On Siri’s product page, Apple demonstrates this with the question “Any good burger joints around here?” and Siri will reply with, ““I found a number of burger restaurants near you.” You can then ask “Hmm. How about tacos?” and Siri will remember the previous restaurant search and pull up Mexican restaurants. The benefit of this is you don’t have to input the command to search for restaurants again.
This is the bar that Siri has set. If S Voice has these capabilities, why isn’t Samsung showing it off?
Have you had any good conversations with your phone lately? Let us know in the comments section.