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Siri for iOS 6 versus Samsung Galaxy S III's S-Voice

Samsung's S-Voice assistant for Android adds some neat new features, but Apple's just-announced Siri update is poised to blow it away.

Siri gets new tricks for iOS 6.
Siri will get a new bag of tricks for iOS 6.

You'll find a much more in-depth hands-on comparison of Siri versus S Voice here.

The Samsung Galaxy S III isn't quite out yet in the U.S., but already, its Siri-like voice assistant -- known as S-Voice -- has just been thrown into the deep, dark shadow of Apple's forthcoming Siri update.

In iOS 6, the next-generation of Siri will add a whole new bag of tricks, including the capability to launch apps, perform voice-activated Facebook and Twitter updates, and pull in sports scores and movie times. It will also make reservations through OpenTable and play you movie trailers.

One of Siri's most exciting and potentially useful new features will integrate with Apple's new mapping app. Telling Siri to navigate you to the nearest outlet mall will launch iOS 6's turn-by-turn navigation. Ask Siri when you'll get there ("Are we there yet?") and "she'll" let you know how many minutes you have left in your trip.

Apple also announced in its WWDC keynote this morning plans to put Siri in the steering wheel of compatible cars from Toyota, GM, Mercedes, BMW, Honda, and Audi, for starters, which will integrate within the next 12 months. Unfortunately, a year from now is a long wait.

For Siri, these upgrades are just the beginning. Within the iOS 6 beta that Apple provided developers today are APIs that will let any app-maker communicate with Siri, a move that will make the voice assistant ubiquitous system-wide.

Samsung Galaxy S III
S-Voice can wake up the Samsung Galaxy S III, and even take a photo. Samsung

How S-Voice compares
Samsung clearly modeled S-Voice on Apple's assistant, but the electronics giant deserves credit for trying to give its own voice helper some unique features, like waking up the Galaxy S III phone with your voice, and unlocking the phone with a combination of your voice input and face detection.

S-Voice can already launch apps and turn-by-turn navigation, and switch into driving mode. There's control over voice dialing, composing a memo, searching contacts, and scheduling tasks. In addition, it will let you snap a photo, place and answer calls, search the Web for answers, get the weather, and tweet. You can also adjust the volume, send e-mail and texts, and launch the native music player. S-Voice rounds out its features with voice recording and getting the time and weather.

Advantage: Apple
Siri and S-Voice share important features, like a natural language engine built on top of Vlingo's long-available voice actions software, and access to content databases like Wolfram Alpha to find answers for your questions. Yet, Apple has the hands-down advantage.

First, Siri was the first to break voice actions out of the fog of obscurity and inject it with the personality and extra programming needed to make it seem more human. Apple is therefore ahead in its development cycle, and has the benefit of more iterations for its developers.

Second, Apple has its entire iOS on its side. Almost every device that will support iOS 6 (save the original iPad) will also support the new and improved Siri, whereas Samsung's S-Voice app right now works on the Samsung Galaxy S III. Even with blockbuster Galaxy S III sales, S-Voice represents one handset on a fragmented Android OS compared to multiple devices on Apple's unified mobile platform.

Samsung will surely expand its voice assistant to tablets and other handsets, and I'd bank on seeing S-Voice on more devices before Apple's autumnal iOS 6 launch.

Apple's third advantage comes down to the nuts and bolts of the matter: Siri just seems to work better. Search the Web and dozens of videos comparing the current Siri (iOS 5) and the S-Voice found in the global version of the Galaxy S III. On the whole, Siri appears faster and more accurate.

In CNET UK's Siri (iOS 5) versus S-Voice test of 15 commands, S-Voice won just a single round. On many occasions, S-Voice wasn't even able to interpret the CNET editor's request.

When I get my U.S. review unit of the Samsung Galaxy S III, I'll revisit Siri versus S-Voice tests here in San Francisco, and you better believe that CNET will hold a rematch when Apple's New Siri debuts.

Until that happens, I'll point out once again that S-Voice has some useful innovations that Apple's assistant currently lacks. Yet when I peer into my crystal ball, I see those interesting features falling short in terms of real-life user adoption when compared to Siri in iOS 6.

Article updated at 2:25pm PT with more S-Voice capabilities.

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