Samsung's S Voice Drive app might not suck (hands-on)

At Samsung's Galaxy S4 launch event, CNET got a chance to play around with a new adaptation of Samsung's voice assistant for cars.

During Samsung's questionable launch of its marquee Galaxy S4 smartphone, the handset-maker introduced S Voice Drive , a breakout version of its S Voice assistant designed specifically for use when on the road.

After the show, I got my hands on an untethered version of the Galaxy S4 and tested it out. Or at least, tested the driving app as much as I could while sitting in a plush, fold-down chair so deep inside a massive theater that I could barely register a GPS signal.

The interface looks smooth, a constellation of circular icons that represent all you can do with your voice command -- like play music, place a call, send messages, look up the weather, and call out for directions.

However, owing to S Voice's extremely spotty history of intense lagginess and inaccuracy , I was more concerned with how well it works.

For the few minutes I was able to test it before the GS4 went back into its secure box, it seemed to work decently well. I called out "Hi, Galaxy" to wake it up, then commanded it to play music. There was only the briefest delay before it started playing a preloaded tune.

I then interrupted and asked it to take me to the nearest Starbucks. In a few seconds, it loaded up a list. Not bad, considering how choked GPS was, and how past uses of S Voice hung, spun, didn't understand me, and returned errors.

It's clear that Samsung and/or its partners have done some work to improve the S Voice software on the back end as well as on the front end. Just how much improvement has yet to be seen, but never fear, we'll get S Voice Drive in a hot CNET test car as soon as we're able.

Samsung's S Voice Drive app should also appear on future Galaxy handsets.

 

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