The kit reviews on Ars Technica are some of the best on the web. Although Ars’s turnaround on most tech news is what I’d charitably call “deliberate”, the delays in product reviews are usually offset by a degree of thoroughness that you don’t find elsewhere. I’d put them 2nd behind The Verge on my personal list.
Ars spent some time with the Galaxy S III and offered its impressions. It’s fast, has a not-especially brilliant display, and features a voice assistant just like the one Apple put into their iPhone. Except it’s not:
Though I personally don’t use Siri all that often, its best feature is that I can speak very casually to it without minding my diction, like you usually feel you need to do with computers. With S Voice, unless you’ve had elocution lessons from a news anchor, it’s not going to understand much of what you say. As one example, I asked both phones “Where is the nearest Price Chopper?” (Price Chopper is a grocery store chain; a brand name, but also two real words). Siri put my query into text: “where is the nearest price chopper” and provided me with a list of addresses. S Voice translated my words into “call Mike at pay cell phone” and gave me a list of phone numbers I might like to call. When the mapping function does work, S Voice offers to complete the query with Maps.
The S Voice app is also very choppy; animations stutter, and the voice trying to communicate with you has very disjointed speech patterns. It’s worth noting that Android has had voice integration and commands much longer than Apple has, though they were limited in scope. The attempted expansion to new tasks hasn’t really gone over well. We’re sure S Voice will improve if Samsung keeps at it, but right now, it’s not a selling point.
Hilariously bad interpretation that stutters on bleeding-edge kit? Sounds like a pleasure to use. Despite any complaints you may have about Siri, at least Apple thought enough about its limitations to slap a “beta” tag on it. In addition to the “inspired by pebbles” horseshit being slung from the pulpit at the S III’s launch, S Voice was touted as a major feature. I’m sure Samsung will be improving their voice integration as assiduously as Apple does.
I’m looking forward to the first class action lawsuit calling out S Voice. The fact that this will never happen is a testament to how high the expectations for an Apple product’s performance are compared to its competitors. Or that Apple users are some of the bitchiest people on the planet. Probably both.