Earlier this year, I wrote about an awesome new feature that was being introduced by Google called simply, Google Duplex. With Google’s announcement came a lot of excitement and consternation. The excitement was about the possibilities it could introduce and the consternation was the ethics of using artificial intelligence to speak to people who have no clue it is a robot.
Update on the Awesome Google Duplex – the Future of Never Being on Hold Again!
What Is Google Duplex?
Google Duplex allows the Google Assistant to make calls, as an assistant, and schedule appointments, find out information, and more – all in the background and without any assistance from you.
Update on Google Duplex
Google Duplex was rolled out on a very limited basis to beta users over the course of the summer. This helped Google work on the AI portion of it while also dealing with the ethical concerns of Duplex.
This week at the Google event, they gave an update on Google Duplex and we know now how will roll out and who can have access to it.
When Will Google Duplex Be Here?
Google is actually going to roll it out, starting next month, by cities and only in the US for the time being. The cities that users will have access to Google Duplex in before the end of the year are:
- New York City
- San Francisco Bay Area
Who Will Get Google Duplex?
Google is actually only going to have it available to Google Pixel smartphone users. If this is a feature you want, this is one more reason to hop on the Pixel phone bandwagon!
I am pretty sure I had read it will be available on the Pixel 3 and 2 for sure and possibly the OG Pixel but some have said it was not clear if it will roll out beyond the Pixel 3. I am almost positive it will be available on the Pixel 2 as well since it has been tested on them and many software features of the Pixel 3 will be given to Pixel 2 phones as well.
Who Can You Call with Google Duplex?
Here is the slightly disappointing part – at the introduction in the above cities, it will only be available to make reservations at restaurants that do not have online reservation systems (Google Assistant can already make those reservations with online systems now).
This is certainly a trial phase as Google will use this information to make Google Duplex available in areas of customer service down the road. These experiences will make Google Assistant smarter and we know that Google wants it to be available for many tasks. I think we may be at Google Duplex being available for making phone calls to airlines by the end of 2019.
What About the Ethical Concerns?
Google has said they will be making Google Duplex to identify what it is when the restaurant answers so that the recipient knows it is a robot. This will certainly appease most people that had those concerns about robot technology in this venue.
Why Will This Be Great for Calls to Airlines?
Think about this – one of the things we frequent flyers despise the most is that airline systems are still not efficient enough to handle certain reservation issues. This includes such things as booking partner awards online and certain delays and cancellations.
Airline agents may really welcome dealing with Google Duplex! If you have ever spoken to an airline agent during a massive weather situation, you know they have already had dozens of people getting really mad at them during the process of rebooking reservations. These agents should welcome the opportunity to speak to a knowledgable robot instead of dealing with an irate customer.
Of course, this works great for us customers as well – we can actually go to sleep after a late cancellation and not stay on hold after the night for our early morning flight the next day! Certainly, we may be skeptical of Google Duplex getting the job done but we will get more comfortable with it over time!.
What Other Cool Features Are Coming to Google Assistant?
Another thing we learned on Tuesday was that Google is enabling a sophisticated AI solution to screening calls. Google Call Screening will be introduced to Pixel 3 phones and make its way down the Pixel line (and only available on those Google phones and not for Android itself). This is an onboard solution to allow you to have Google screen your calls from unknown numbers.
This will work in the way that Google will answer your calls like this: “Hi, the person you’re calling is using a screening service from Google, and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name, and why you are calling.”
Whatever they say will be transcribed for you in real-time and you will have the option to tell them you will call back later, answer the call, or even ask to be removed from their call list (if it is something like a spam caller).
So, we don’t have the awesome Google Duplex feature for airline hold times – yet. But, it is getting closer and Google is making some great strides to streamlining the phone time with holds and callers we don’t want to deal with. Even as a primary iOS user, I love what Google is doing and my Pixel 2 is quickly become a more used phone than it had been before!
If only Google would have released the Google Pixel smartwatch…