The AI-driven feature that lets you make use of the Google Assistant to call up and book a restaurant is now being expanded to more places and by association, more people.
Google confirmed the expansion earlier today stating Google Pixel phone owners can now use the feature in 43 states within the US.
This marks a fairly substantial expansion considering the feature was previously only available in a select number of locations, including Atlanta, New York, Phoenix, and San Francisco. With 43 states now supported, the states and locations that are not supported are now the clear minority.
It remains to be seen when support will go live in the remainder of the non-supported states as it's possible local regulations may prohibit the use of a feature like this for various reasons.
The restaurant-booking feature is built on Google’s Duplex technology and has been the subject of much debate. Duplex made its public debut at last year’s Google I/O event and instantly became one of the main talking points of the event. Not only due to its sheer intelligence, but also due to the privacy concerns surrounding such a use case.
Since then Google has been working on those concerns. For example, the AI now declares to the person that it is an automated system and that the calls are being recorded before attempting to make the requested reservation.
Although the big selling point with this feature is the ability for the user to book a table without having to call the restaurant themselves ahead of time, that’s not the only reason Duplex technology is used to call businesses. For example, the Assistant is also programmed to call businesses if it cannot find select information online, such as business operating hours.
This is the other point to note about the Assistant and Duplex, as even requesting the Assistant to book you a table does not automatically mean the AI will call the location. Like the business hours aspect, the calling to a business is only implemented if there’s not a way for the Assistant to make a booking online first.
Businesses do have the option of blacklisting themselves from the automated system and so even if the user is based in one of the 43 states, and the Assistant is unable to make the booking through an online system, the possibility remains that the Assistant might be unable to draw on Duplex technology to complete the booking.
For users interested in getting started with the restaurant-booking AI feature, simply ask the Google Assistant book a table somewhere.
After requesting some additional information, such as the date, time and for how many people, the Google Assistant will provide you with a notification advising the reservation has been made. This is regardless of whether the automated system makes the call or uses an online booking partner to make the reservation.
Owners of a smartphone that’s not a Google Pixel, stay tuned. As part of the same announcement, Google also confirmed that support for “more Android and iOS devices” will begin “over the next few weeks.” Although Google did also point out the device support will “slowly” become available.