how are Mathf.SmoothDamp and Mathf.SmoothStep different

What is the difference between these 2 functions and when should they be used (best practices, etc.)?

Links

The differences are listed right in the manual links you provided. The trick is, of course they do similar things – they both move you in a non-linear fashion.

But, as it says, SmoothStep takes a 0-1 time percent input, while SmoothDamp takes a speed. One says to go there in 3 seconds, moving at whatever speed that requires. The other says to go at about 2.5M/S, taking as much time as it requires.

Then, of course, SmoothStep says in the description that it takes a while to speed up at the start, while SmoothDamp says it works like a spring (springs are further==faster.) And, SmoothDamp has more ways to tweak it.

But, in the end, they’re just math. You can do any of that yourself if you have a little high school pre-calculus.