How to Use Google Duplex, Which Debuts This Week on Pixel Phones
Google’s highly anticipated next-generation voice assistant might already be on your phone. The Duplex update that is supposed to give the Google Assistant the capability to call restaurants and hair salons to book appointments with an extremely human-sounding voice is in the process of a quiet roll-out.
Inverse was able to access Duplex’s restaurant booking capabilities on a Pixel 3 from New York City but we are part of a lucky group of select users. Google confirmed to VentureBeat on November 21 that the update will be available for Pixel users exclusively in Atlanta, New York City, Phoenix, and San Francisco.
As it stands, Duplex is about half way toward the vision outlined by CEO Sundar Pichai during the Google I/O conference in May. When we tried it, it would only book restaurants while requests to set up a hair appointment yielded only search results.
There is another caveat as well. Duplex will also only call a restaurant if it doesn’t already use a reservation service, like OpenTable or Resy. The service also doesn’t appear to be able (yet) to prepare a transcript of the interaction between the Assistant and the restaurant for you to view afterwards.
But, the assistant does appear to capably take down the details of when, where, and how many people you need a reservation for, the Assistant will then ping you with a notification to let you know if it successfully booked a table. Duplex says it needs about 15 minutes to make the reservation, but when we tried it we were able to confirm our reservation within five.
Google began testing Duplex early in the summer by partnering with a small group of businesses in the United States. During a live demo of the software, Inverse got to speak to Duplex from the restaurant’s perspective.
At that point, the A.I. had developed voice tics, like the “uhhs” and “umms” that pepper human speech. Because of how human-like it sounds company executives told Inverse that Duplex would be announcing itself as a robot to avoid making someone believe they were talking to a person.
However, a VentureBeat video revealed that Duplex failed to announce itself as a bot during a test phone call. The Verge reported that this happened during this phone call because Duplex was being directed by humans, instead of autonomously speaking.
A lot remains unclear about Duplex’s first baby steps into the market and Google didn’t respond immediately to our request for clarification. But this could be the beginning a massive stride in consumer A.I.