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Google Duplex is rolling out to some Pixel users, still looks outrageous

Google is letting some Pixel owners test out its creepily realistic AI-powered voice calls to make restaurant reservations.

Published onNovember 22, 2018

Google Pixel 3 app dock search bar
  • Google is rolling out Duplex to some Pixel users.
  • The AI-powered voice assistant can make restaurant reservations.
  • There are some subtle differences when compared to the version Google demoed earlier in the year, however.

Google’s AI-powered voice booking system Duplex has arrived on some Pixel phones in the U.S. In a statement, Google told Venture Beat a small group of users in select U.S. cities will gain access to the feature.

At the moment, the software can only be used to make restaurant reservations. You start the process by asking Google to make a booking. The assistant will then ask you some questions such as when you want the table, how many people it will be for, and the phone number you want to make the booking under.

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Initial signs seem positive. Google estimates it will work four times out of five and, according to Venture Beat, the system worked every time they tried it. The service apparently isn’t available with all restaurants. This could either be due to the system not working perfectly, or because some restaurants have opted to not allow bookings through Duplex.

A video of Duplex in action shows Google has made some changes to how it works when compared to the demo from earlier this year. For example, the call opens with the system introducing itself as being from Google and tells the receiver the call is being recorded. If the receiver says they don’t want to be recorded, Google transfers the call to a non-recorded line. When Google first showed Duple off, there were some questions about how the recordings were made, when nobody appeared to consent to them.

The voice is still creepily realistic.

Google has also put in some safeguards to prevent the system from being abused. Users can only cancel a booking at a specific restaurant once per day. Additionally, you’ll be banned from the service if you cancel too many bookings in a row.

At the moment, we don’t know when the project will get a wider rollout or when it will be able to do other tasks. In the original demo, Google showed Duplex booking a hair appointment, so this may be an upcoming service.

Of course, pretty much nothing like this has been done before, so it may take a bit of time to get a wider release. Especially, if things don’t go exactly to plan in the test roll-out. Nonetheless, the current system appears to work smoothly which suggests our initial excitement over the project’s unveiling is justified.

Next up: What is Google Duplex? — features, release date, and more

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