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What is Google Duplex and how do you use it?
Google Duplex is an unusual AI project active in the most of the US, as well as a diverse set of countries around the world. At first it was narrowly focused on restaurant reservations, but its use has since expanded to other tasks.
In this article, we’ll explain Google Duplex in detail, telling you where it’s life, and which devices it supports. Finally, we’ll tell you how to use Duplex to make a restaurant or haircut reservation, pay for a movie ticket, or help you fix a compromised password.
What is Google Duplex?
Google Duplex was first announced by CEO Sundar Pichai during the May 2018 Google I/O developers conference. He showed how the service used an AI-driven voice to make phone appointments without any interaction from the user. Not only was the AI able understand someone on the other end of the line, it was able to respond with correct answers to questions, and insert “ums” and pause breaks to make itself sound more like a real human.
Google later released a video demonstrating how users would tell Google Assistant to set up a restaurant reservation. After the call in the video is made, Assistant sends a notification to the user, letting them know that the reservation is a go.
In November 2018, the company announced that Google Duplex was rolling out to a select number of public users in a few US cities. A few changes were made to address controversies, however, namely making Assistant identify itself, as well as inform call recipients that they’re being recorded. If a recipient says they don’t want to be recorded, Assistant now transfers a call to a non-recorded line.
Where can you use Duplex?
Google Duplex works in 49 US states, according to Google’s support site. Only Louisiana is holding out.
Outside the US, supported countries currently include:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
Which devices support Google Duplex?
Google Duplex was first launched for owners of Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones. Now, though, the feature should be available on any device with the Google Assistant app and access to Search or Maps. That’s quite a spectrum, including both Android devices and iPhones.
What can you do with Google Duplex?
At the moment, Duplex is geared towards making restaurant reservations, buying movie tickets online, setting up haircuts, or helping with compromised passwords. In the future, the service could do a lot more, since Google is only really limited by the power of its AI.
A more minor feature is the ability to check business hours, but since those are often listed in Google Search or Maps results, it’s generally only useful during holidays or emergencies.
How to use Duplex to make a restaurant reservation
As long as you live in a supported region, you’re probably ready to make a reservation. Here’s how:
- On your phone, activate Google Assistant. iPhone owners will have to open the appropriate app.
- Ask Assistant to make a breakfast, lunch, or dinner reservation. That should trigger Duplex. Notably, just asking Assistant to make a reservation may not be enough.
- Assistant should give you a list of nearby restaurants, though not all of them will support Duplex. It may take a few tries to find one that does.
- Once you’ve found a restaurant, Assistant will ask you what day and time you’d like, along with how many people will be coming. It will also ask you for an alternative time in case your first isn’t available.
- Finally, confirm that you want to make the call.
Duplex’s AI should do all the rest. After it finishes, Assistant will inform you within 15 minutes that your reservation is set up. If Duplex can’t reach the restaurant, Assistant will let you know that, too.
If for some reason you have to cancel, you can ask Assistant and Duplex will call the restaurant back.
How to use Duplex to set up a haircut
Haircut support was quietly added in 2020 — now there’s a phrase. Here’s how to book a snip:
- On your phone, look up your stylist’s location in either Google Search or Maps, then tap on Request an Appointment.
- Pick from one of these options: general haircut, men’s haircut or woman’s haircut.
- Enter your preferred date and time info.
- Select whether you’ve been to that stylist’s location before, and you can optionally name a specific stylist.
- Enter your contact information (name, email address, and phone number).
That’s it. Duplex should then call the stylist and set up your appointment.
Hold For Me
Powered by Google Duplex, Hold For Me can keep your place in a phone queue while you go about your business. When someone finally speaks, the feature will let you know that it’s time to talk again.
Hold For Me is currently only available in English, and only for the US, Australia, and Canada. You’ll also need a Pixel 3 or later, since the feature is linked to Android’s Phone app. You may have to enable the feature in Phone settings for it to appear as an option, and you’ll need to take your phone out of silent or vibrate mode.
Be aware that Hold For Me can potentially miss when a representative comes on the line. If a call is mission-critical, you may want to stick it out.
How to use Google Duplex — Limitations
Perhaps the biggest limitation is that you can’t hear the recordings of calls Duplex makes on your behalf, nor can you get a written transcript. There’s no word yet if Google will let people get that information in the future.
Also, if you do decide to cancel a restaurant reservation, you can’t use Duplex to make another reservation at the same place for at least a day. In fact, if you make reservations at several restaurants then decide to cancel them, Google will disable your use of Duplex for an unspecified amount of time. Google says these limitations prevent harmful spam.
Google Duplex on the web
Duplex on the web started rolling out in the US in October 2019, helping with tasks like movie tickets. If you use Google Search on your phone, it will give you a way to buy tickets via Assistant. From there Duplex takes over, becoming a persistent overlay on the ticket site. Once you select how many tickets to buy, the overlay handles the actual purchase, using your stored payment information. It works with with brands like AMC, Fandango, MJR Theaters, and Movietickets.com in the US, as well as Odeon in the UK.
Fix a compromised online password
During Google I/O 2021, the company announced that Duplex features were being used for a new feature in its Password Manager system. Chrome users will see a Change Password button generated by Google Assistant if the company believes a user-created password has been compromised. When users tap or click on the button, Assistant and Duplex will automatically guide them through the process of creating a new password for that account.
Not every website may support the feature, but Google has worked to fill in gaps, so there’s a strong chance your favorite sites are covered.
We’ll be updating this article as needed when Google Duplex expands to more locations, and as it’s used for more services.