Google Duplex is beginning to roll out to Pixel users on a slow and steady stream, according to a report from Venture Beat. The service has been popping up on an extremely limited test basis up until now in select markets, but this slow, seemingly random rollout to a wider range of users should continue until Google has gotten it out to all Pixel owners. Duplex is triggered via Google Assistant, and has a number of automated processes running in the background to make the magic happen, as seen in the videos attached below. The end result is an all-in-one reservation system that can, for now, get you a table at a restaurant, with more use cases coming in the future.
Background: For those not in the know, the main feature of Duplex isn't reservation management; it's a phone calling voice generator that uses natural language processing to make itself so hyper-realistic that Google was forced to add a disclaimer at the beginning of each call, lest people think it's an actual human calling businesses and getting reservations. Duplex is able to adapt its digitized voice and ears, so to speak, to whoever it's talking to. While it can mimic accents with startling realism, it's still limited to English only at this time, limiting its usefulness outside of the United States and English-speaking parts of Europe, among a handful of other primarily English markets. As for the management aspect, there's a sort of flow to it that keeps tabs on everything for you, and can handle making and even cancelling reservations, as well as reminding you of those reservations, quite well. The whole process starts in Google Assistant, where you'll ask for a reservation, then eventually choose a restaurant. As the conversation between bot and restaurant employee goes on without you, you'll be able to see the results play out and, if necessary, ask the robot to make adjustments. Information about reservations made is logged automatically; the AI understands what the other party on the phone is saying, and extrapolates that info to create Google Calendar entries with the relevant information.
Impact: Natural language processing is an area that Google has been advancing in by leaps and bounds, and for many good reasons. Getting Google Assistant to the top of the charts when it comes to voice-driven AI assistant programs is one of those reasons, of course, but other voice recognition use cases are also in the search giant's wheelhouse. With reservations being easier to make than ever, it's safe to say that Pixel owners will likely be less hesitant to make those calls once this rollout finishes. According to Google, it's being taken slow in order to catch any potential bugs that may still be hanging around, and to avoid swamping businesses with similar-sounding calls from Duplex all at once. The fact that Google has built an AI that can ask a user what they want and then use its smarts to handle all aspects of the arrangement from there is no real shock, but only time will tell where that technology will go from here.