- Samsung created a cool "Pop Up Player" that lets you watch a video while simultaneously conducting other tasks. The video plays in a floating picture-in-picture-style box that can be moved around the screen. The feature is wildly impressive and a great demonstration of the phone's power, though I question how often one would actually use it (particularly considering that videos have to be on the phone's local storage to work -- YouTube isn't supported).
- The Galaxy S III has a host of new motion-based commands. Some of them are more novel than practical -- being able to tilt the phone to move an icon around on your home screen, for example -- while others are legitimately useful, like the ability to have the system automatically call someone when you move the phone to your ear while texting.
- Samsung has provided a handful of gesture-based commands, like the ability to swipe left on someone's name in the Phone app to text her or swipe right to dial her number. It also, however, removed Google's ICS-level People app, which offers a centralized place to view your contacts and all their connected social network info.
Finally, there's S Voice, Samsung's voice-powered personal assistant that's clearly an answer to Apple's Siri. Like Siri, unfortunately, S Voice feels more like a gimmick than anything. In general, I found its accuracy and responsiveness to be inconsistent and unreliable.
The Galaxy S II's S Voice in action.
The few areas where S Voice shines are those in which it expands upon Google's own Voice Actions technology, which is integrated into Android by default. S Voice has a few useful additions to Google's simple command-driven tools, such as voice-activated options to set timers or toggle the phone's Wi-Fi mode. But it lacks some of the basic commands that make Voice Actions useful, such as the ability to compose and send an email.
The more natural-language-based functions are a waste of time. S Voice rarely understood me correctly, and even when it did, it almost always responded by apologizing for not having the answer and then prompting me to search the Web. (This happened even with easy queries like: "How tall is Michael Jordan?") Most tasks could be accomplished more effectively and with less aggravation by using Google's Voice Actions or just searching the Web directly.