S Voice is Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri and is preloaded on the Galaxy S4 mini. S Voice can be used to initiate a call, dictate text, launch apps, play music, change a setting, make a memo (including voice memo), add a reminder, schedule an event, set an alarm or timer, check the weather, do a search on the internet, look for local listings (e.g. nearby restaurants) and even get an answer to a question.
S Voice does duplicate parts of Google Now, but being less search focused it tries to do more on the actual phone and it has some added features. Some of these are available outside of S Voice too, so you can set the Galaxy S4 mini to answer a call, snooze an alarm, take a photo and what not by voice commands even when S Voice isn't running. The problem with S Voice is that it is not nearly as fast or as accurate at recognizing your speech input as Now.
Naturally, being a Jelly Bean smartphone, the S4 mini also comes with Google Now.
Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to you.
It provides traffic information to your work or home, knows the scores of sports teams you follow and gives you the weather forecast for your location.
Google Now also has its own separate widget for the homescreen or lockscreen.
The phonebook on the Galaxy S4 mini packs a wide range of features. Four tabs on top provide access to the Phone app, Groups, Contacts and Favorites.
As usual, there are various options to filter contacts by phone numbers, groups and multiple sorting. You can move contacts to/from the SIM card but you can't display them alongside the phone memory entries.
A call or a message to someone can be initiated directly from the contact list with a right and left swipes respectively, which is really handy on the go.
The Quick contacts feature, upon a tap on the contact picture, shows a pop up menu with shortcuts to call, video call, text or email.
Tapping on a contact reveals all the details available. Information is perfectly organized into different sections for phone, email, etc. You can use the back button to go to the full contact list, or tap in the top left corner, just like in vanilla Android. The top right corner has shortcuts to contact editing and favorites.
If the phone book finds duplicate contact entries, it'll prompt you to join them. Furthermore, there are a plethora of options once you hit the Menu button. You can view the call history, as well as join, unjoin and share contacts.
There's plenty of contact information you can assign to each contact and it still remains neatly organized. You have all the types listed (numbers, email addresses, etc.) and, just like the previous version of TouchWiz, there's a plus sign on the right - tapping it adds another item of that type. Pressing the minus sign under it deletes the unneeded field.
The reject list blocks certain numbers from calling you, even just prefixes (you can block international callers). It works great with preset numbers and you can also bar unknown numbers. There are third party blacklist apps in the Play Store but it's nice to have this out of the box.
You can choose a specific vibration pattern as an incoming call alert, just like you would a ringtone. A set of predefined patterns is offered, but you can make your own too. You can also assign a custom vibration to specific contacts.
The phonebook app on the Galaxy S4 mini is really something. It's almost too advanced for some users but its interface is simple enough so you can only use the features you need. Once you find your feet around you will appreciate having cool extras like Direct Call and selective call barring, which stock and most other forms of Android lack.