Among all the announcements that came out of Google I/O this past May, the most exciting was definitely Google Duplex — Google's new artificial intelligence system that can make phone calls to book reservations and appointments on your behalf. The demos that we saw at I/O almost seemed too good to be true, but according to The Verge, Duplex works just as well as it did in May and will officially begin testing in the real-world this summer.
Google recently let a few people demo Duplex before it's widely released to the public, and based on the impressions coming out of the demos, Duplex is every bit as futuristic as we remember:
The demos we saw had many of the same elements that made the original demonstration at Google IO so impressive: the voice sounded much more human than normal, complete with ums and ahhs. It also featured something we didn't hear last May: each call started with an explicit statement that the call was being recorded.
As noted above, the public version of Duplex does alert people on the other end of the call of what it is. In the announcement video Google published, the first thing Duplex says is "Hi! I'm the Google Assistant calling to make a reservation for a client. This automated call will be recorded."
If someone interrupts the Assistant and says they don't want to be recorded, Duplex will acknowledge the response, say "Ok, I'll call back on an unrecorded line", and then have a human operator call back. Speaking of humans, Google has an entire fallback system in place just in case something goes wrong with Duplex. If Duplex gets confused, a human can take over the call at any point to finish things up.
Initially, Duplex will only be available for a small group of testers Google's chosen.
All of this is immensely exciting, but when will you actually be able to use Duplex?
In the next few weeks, Google will initially roll out Duplex to "a set of trusted tester users" that can use Duplex to call businesses Google's explicitly partnered with. Duplex will only be able to call about holiday hours at first, but at some point this summer, it'll be able to make full restaurant reservations. The ability to book haircut appointments is still coming, but that'll be the last thing we see added.
Google Duplex will first be available in the United States with support for English, but as we saw during the demo in May, it'll understand a variety of accents and dialects.
It'll likely still be quite a few months before you can use Duplex like any old Google Assistant feature, but even so, it's beyond exciting that this technology works as well as it does and will soon begin testing in real-world situations.
Are you excited to start using Duplex?