I find that most of what the OT does can be done easily with ableton. Workflows are of coruse different, but that’s anoter topic.
You can of course sequence samples, add automation to these, add fx, slice samples (simpler actually has a neat slice mode built right in) etc.
What Ableton can’t do the same way the OT does, is the ability to read from a buffer while it records and do stuff with that buffer and of course the probability sequencing thing @kin.sventa mentioned above.
@madeofoak the basic functionality (and @kin.sventa already explained a good portion of it) is that you have 8 recording buffers. You can record into these in various ways, either by pressing a REC button, using a guitar-pedal-style looper, or by setting a trigger in the sequencer that will intiate the recording.
You can have 8 of these and each track on the OT can read from any of them.
The intersting bit, as already mentioned above, is that the OT can both record to and read from the same buffer at the same time. Playback on the OT is controlled by a sequencer. Once you put a trigger on a step, the buffer will be read, and you can define the speed / pitch but also from where to start to read. You can apply an envelope, filtering, fx.
It’s a very powerful feature and people do use it in very different ways. If you have the OT record continuosly, you can use it to create an alternate version of what is going on another track or a group of tracks. You can quickly one-shot record a phase, then create a variation of it, then replace the buffer with another phrase, getting a different variation of it on the fly, you can use this as a beat shuffler or glitch effect. You can create a whole track by just playing one held note, have that recorded and played back by different tracks in various ways.
This one is actually on my list. I need to find a moment to check it out in depth yet though. Seems pretty cool at first glance though.