Skip to main content

Google Duplex will begin testing in the real world this summer

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?

I'm ecstatic to live in a Google Duplex world

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • This is a nightmare waiting to happen.
  • How so?
  • You mean beyond the privacy concerns, the required data hovering, and the possibilities of practical jokes and unexpected charges?
  • What is data hovering
  • What is the point of it?
  • The opportunity to automate a lot of mundane tasks. For someone like you, this could mean getting all that time back you waste yelling "get off my lawn" or "back in my day" etc :)
  • You little whippersnapper, I'll
  • Butv you would still waste time having to check that your booking had been made correctly. The fact that it has a manual fallback facility means you have to be listening to the call anyway.
  • Loving the human fall-back option. Really shows Google is trying to make this a seamless service. Hoping it is a feature that comes to the Pixels this fall, then later for everyone else. Keep it focused in the beginning. Even make it exclusive to Pixel phones because it will be one helluva feature.
  • Why keep it as an exclusive, Google Assistant isn't and Duplex is a part of it?
  • Google Assistant was exclusive to Pixel at launch.
  • Excellent! Glad to see this is actually getting out of the lab.
  • I ain't gonna lie this is quite a innovative feature, kudos to Google.
  • The average person makes like 1-2 appointments per month at the most? It seems like a lot of time and energy that will save users maybe 5 minutes of their time per month? Seems like as an appointment scheduler its overkill, maybe down the road it will work better as customer service?
  • I hate how Google always thinks it knows what you want to do. I was looking on Google maps for the location an hotel that my daughter had booked for her holiday. The bottom 40% of the screen was taken up with a screen that asked me if I wanted directions to the hotel, to make a reservation at the hotel or to call the hotel. I wanted none of these, but could not get rid of the window in maps.
  • I could see this being very useful for ordering take out from a restaurant (ie. calling in a pizza delivery) much more so than making an appointment. And would likely be used more often for something like that.