Face-off: Siri for iPhone 4S vs. S Voice for Galaxy S III

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The Samsung Galaxy S III has a lot of unique features, but there's no denying that S Voice looks like a carbon copy of Apple's Siri for the iPhone 4S.  Like Siri, S Voice can do things like compose text messages, give you the weather, recommend restaurants and create appointments by responding to your spoken commands. And Samsung's interface has a very familiar look and feel to Apple's. But that doesn't mean these assistants are created equal.

We put S Voice and Siri through a five-round battle to determine a winner. 

To make our face-off as fair as possible, we conducted our tests using a 4G MiFi hotspot. After lining up the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S III side-by-side, we opened their respective personal assistant apps and then clicked on their voice activation keys simultaneously.

Round 1: Weather

In the first round, we started with a simple question: "What's the forecast for tomorrow?"

Siri: Completed in 3.61 seconds. Siri doesn't provide a particularly impressive graphic for the weather, but it lists the highs and lows for each day of the week.

S Voice: Completed in 3.77 seconds. Compared to the iPhone, S Voice features more detailed illustrations when displaying the weather, but doesn't give as long a forecast as Siri unless requested. In subsequent tests S Voice wouldn't answer our question at all due to network errors.

WINNER: Siri wins this round for providing a more detailed forecast and for being more reliable.

Round 2: Scheduling an Appointment

In the second round, we asked Siri and S Voice to schedule lunch with a co-worker.

Siri: Completed in 8.80 seconds. Siri asks you to confirm the appointment; once you've done so, it displays the date and time of the meeting and announces aloud the name of the person with whom you've scheduled the appointment. This feature allows you to make an appointment without ever having to look at the screen to double-check that you've invited the right person.

S Voice: Completed in 5.13 seconds. Like Siri, S Voice asks you to confirm the appointment; once confirmed, it displays the date and time of the meeting as well as the name of the contact. Sadly, it doesn't say the name of the person out loud --a neat trick of Siri's that we wish S Voice would emulate.

WINNER: Although we like that Siri announced the name of our contact, this round goes to S Voice because it was faster.

Round 3: Getting Directions

In the third round, we asked Siri and S Voice for directions to 1410 Broadway, New York, NY.

Siri: Completed in 11.83 seconds. Siri announces that its found directions to the location you specified, and then takes you outside of the app to bring up the Maps app.

S Voice: Completed in 8.03 seconds. Like Siri, S Voice takes you outside of the app to bring up the Google Maps application. However, unlike Siri, S Voice automatically connects the Galaxy S III to Google Navigation to provide spoken turn-by-turn directions.

WINNER: S Voice completed the task faster and offers spoken turn-by-turn navigation, making it the clear winner when searching for directions. Hopefully, Siri can catch up with iOS 6.

Round 4: Looking for Restaurants

In the fourth round, we asked Siri and S Voice what Mexican restaurants we could find in our area.

Siri: Completed in 5.53 seconds. Siri displays the names, addresses and star ratings of restaurants in your area that match your description (in this case, Mexican). When iOS 6 rolls out, Siri will also feature Yelp recommendations and OpenTable integration, so you can make reservations right from the results screen.

The app already sports contextual intelligence, meaning that if you ask a follow-up question about the same topic (for instance, "What about steak houses?"), Siri knows that you're still talking about restaurants. This makes conversations with the app feel much more intuitive.

S Voice: Completed in 6.76 seconds. S Voice also displays the names, addresses and star ratings of local restaurants. You can voice dial the restaurants directly from the app, an option that is not available on Siri. However, S Voice isn't as smart as Siri; when we asked it the same question about steak houses, S Voice didn't understand the question.

WINNER: We like that S Voice lets you dial restaurants right from the results screen, but Siri wins this round because of its ability to understand questions based on context.

Round 5: Special Features

Siri: In addition to its "contextual intelligence," Siri offers a number of other unique features such as the ability to ask where a company's stock currently stands and the ability to tell jokes. In addition, Siri enables you to create reminders that tie in with your location. So, for example, you can say "Remind me to get milk when I get home."

S Voice: S Voice offers a number of unique features that Siri lacks (for the moment, anyway), such as dictating Twitter updates using your voice, as well as the ability to toggle features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can also use S Voice to open apps, though we experienced mixed results.

WINNER: Although Siri is more fun to talk to and knows your whereabouts, S Voice has more functionality right now.

Overall Winner: Siri

In the face-off between voice-powered personal assistants, Siri and S Voice are good at different things. Siri provides a more natural sounding voice and delivers a more conversational experience. However, at the moment, S Voice boasts greater functionality. Samsung's personal assistant offers a number of unique features including the ability to toggle settings, post Tweets and call restaurants directly from the app.

Where Siri pulls ahead is reliability. While S Voice offered faster performance in this video (an average of 5.9 seconds per answer for 7.4 for Siri) we've encountered a lot more bugs in Samsung's assistant than Apple's beta product. At times during our testing S Voice would refuse to function at all, answering queries with "Say 'Hi Galaxy' to wake me up." (It later recovered.)

S Voice is certainly competent, but with new Siri features in iOS 6 just around the corner--like restaurants, movie listings and the ability to post to both Facebook and Twitter, it looks like Apple will soon widen its lead.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • anonymous Says:

    Why does it say siri is overall winner if s voice won more rounds

  • Nate Says:

    Just got a galaxy S III. I have used both Siri and S-Voice. ANd while I agree S-voice has a few hang ups, I loved it, I think once Samsung updates it, it will be fantastic and blow Siri out of the water. They tried to stop the S3 and S voice, and couldn't. Sorry Apple, the DROID army will continue to resist you and outsell you.

  • Karsten Says:

    So biased. First, my galaxy s 3 gave me a full 5-day forecast when I asked for weather, and for the record basing results on a potentially improved future app is garbage. News flash, both apps get updates. And Android ones don't feature completely unintelligible, dangerous maps.

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  • abanglek Says:

    it's not all about s-voice showing forecast of the day or better graphics, apple know what are siri all about, sometime we just too lazy to saw the screen & siri just explain it (beside that, iphone wide angle ips screen help when you're too lazy to pick your phone on the table). look back at the video, siri describing the weather rather than just showing the graphic. it's nature for apple know where to put things in the right place. beside that, android is all about widget, if you really into graphics, why not just putting weather forecast widget?

    siri looks like much more talking (& ok word), but i didn't feel it's annoyed. siri (& ios) is about experience, it's usable & fun. at least i found people using siri on iphone, but not on the samsung (or google voice in other android device). i think i'm more using voice command in winmo6.5 days rather than on android (yes, i'm using xperia arc but soon migrating, so long android, so long riot community) -but battery life not so good in wm6.5 device when using voice command -that time.

    best experience using this things; using bluetooth & maybe on driving. it's maybe embarrassing put your phone in front of your mouth asking do this, do that in front of public.

  • Esteban Says:

    Agreed with everyone else on a lot of points. Especially the weather. I would have seriously gotten annoyed if S Voice gave me the week's forecast instead of "tomorrow" like I specifically asked. Overall I give this win to S Voice.

  • Erin Says:

    WTH? S Voice clearly wins. First, you asked what the forecast was for TOMORROW, in which you got a detailed report for only tomorrow while Apple delivered a trim-downed one for the entire week. S Voice clearly wins on the second one because it was faster. Again, S Voice was quicker for the directions and gave you spoken turn-by-turn. And, like you even said, S Voice has more functionality. So, please do explain how Siri tops S voice because I apparently don't see it.

  • Laura Says:

    when you said that siri can tell jokes you were telling the truth but can she tell good jokes? no! s voice can tell jokes and they are genuinely funny. S voice also understands you better.

  • alex Says:

    S-voice is better...the first round you asked for tomorrow forecast and SIRI display all week weather ...
    SIRI is wrong ...

  • Jason T Says:

    Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 9:14 am
    "It’s true that Siri exhibits lag at times as well but in this case the S III simply wasn’t reliable enough."

    So you base this result on the fact that you don't think S-Voice is reliable enough? So you didn't base the score on features or permanence? In my opinion S-voice won in all five rounds and in your words used appears that you believe this too yet you give siri the win??

    loland Says:
    June 26th, 2012 at 7:29 pm
    "lol siri wins? apple fan boys will never learn…"

    ^^^ Agree 100%

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    It's true that Siri exhibits lag at times as well but in this case the S III simply wasn't reliable enough.

  • Jason T Says:

    As for round one you say that S-Voice looses out in that round because it didn't tell you the forecast for the week but if I'm not mistaking you only asked for the forecast for tomorrow not for the week. If you ask S-Voice for the forecast for the week it will display in detail the forecast for the week even with a graphic display picture of what the current weather is like.

  • Jason T Says:

    "Overall Winner: Siri" How can you come to this conclusion? I think you base this result on the fact that Siri will be able to do more once the new update is out, yet S-Voice can already do the same as Siri and more and in my opinion is more intelligent then Siri. I have both a Galaxy S III and an IPhone 4s and i have asked it alot more then five questions and 9/10 S-Voice was far superior in it's answers. Both phones have a problem of not understanding the questions at times. Siri has been out alot longer then S-Voice and it still has its fare share of problems. Give it time and Samsung will be updating its S-voice to perform even better then Siri even after its been updated with IOS 6.

    I would like to see a new review with more and a greater range of questions and not to base the score on what Siri will do once its been updated but what it actually does now and how it performs against S-Voice.

  • loland Says:

    lol siri wins? apple fan boys will never learn...

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