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Pixel Phones to Get Duplex AI by Year-End, Letting Google Assistant Make Restaurant Reservations on Call

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Pixel Phones to Get Duplex AI by Year-End, Letting Google Assistant Make Restaurant Reservations on Call

With Duplex, Google Assistant will be able to make phone calls for Pixel users

  • Duplex will start rolling out by the end of 2018
  • It will initially be available only for Pixel phone users
  • The bot will disclose "its true nature" when making calls

Unveiled at Google I/O 2018, Google Duplex will be ready to roll out to Pixel users by the end of the year. A demo of the feature showed it to be Google's new experimental technology, which lets an AI-powered bot make phone calls on your behalf. Google has now announced that Duplex will launch in the US before the end of the year, initially allowing Pixel users to make reservations through Google Assistant. Once active, instead of personally calling restaurants that don't have an online reservation system, Google Assistant can make the calls for users.

In its Pixel 3 launch blog post, Google said the Duplex feature will initially be available to Pixel users in select US regions - Atlanta, New York, Phoenix, and the San Francisco Bay Area. It added that the feature will roll out to other US cities in the future. "We’ll disclose to businesses receiving the call that they're speaking to an automated system, and we have developed controls to protect against spam and abuse, as well as the ability for a business to opt out of receiving calls," said Mario Queiroz
GM & VP, Pixel.

As per a Wired report, Google Duplex will intially only be able to call restaurants without online booking systems. This means, before the end of 2018, Pixel users will be able to direct the bot to make calls to restaurants and book tables on their behalf.

When Google had demoed Google Duplex, it showed a voice assistant call a hair salon and book an appointment on behalf of a customer. Google essentially showed how far ahead Google is in terms of voice-based AI assistants and conversational, natural language processing. The natural-sounding robot-assistant by Google, complete with 'umms' and 'ahhs' amidst conversations, wowed some observers, but left others fretting over the ethics of how the human-seeming software might be used. Citing a Google spokesperson, the Wired report said that the company "has a policy to always have the bot disclose its true nature when making calls."

Unfortunately, this is all the information that is available about the Google Duplex rollout as of now. There is no exact timeline for the release yet, nor there is any clarity regarding which smartphones will get the service. It is also not clear whether Google will be rolling out Duplex to all Pixel phones. However, we can expect to get more details in the days leading up to the release.

This is one of two new Google Assistant features that Google said were coming to the Pixel. The other, Call Screen, will screen calls for users and will be made available with Pixel 3 series smartphones at launch. Other Pixel smartphones will receive the feature next month. Callers will be presented with a "synthetic voice" that will ask them to explain the reason for calling. It will then provide a live transcript of caller's speech and show it on the Pixel's screen. Users can then decide whether to pick up, respond by tapping a quick reply, or mark the call as spam and dismiss. As with Google Duplex, those calling will be informed that a screening service is being used.


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