Google begins testing Duplex internationally
Duplex will be powering automated calls to confirm holiday business hours in New Zealand.
Google is testing its Duplex technology internationally for the first time, the company announced on Tuesday. The service will be used to confirm holiday operating hours for a pilot group of New Zealand businesses.
The test. “Businesses in this pilot group will receive an automated call from Google asking to confirm their hours for the upcoming Labour Day public holiday on October 28,” wrote Scott Huffman, Google’s VP of engineering. “Once confirmed, these times will automatically be updated on Google Maps and Search for anyone searching for the business info for the holiday.”
Google will disclose to business owners that the calls are automated and businesses can opt-out of receiving calls from Google over the phone or through their Google My Business settings.
The current state of Duplex. Updating holiday business hours on Google Maps and Search is a considerate feature for users, but it’s still a long way from the almost-conversational, multi-step hair appointment and restaurant reservation booking capabilities that Google teased at I/O in 2018. Earlier this year, the company also tweeted a preview of how Duplex technology could be applied to car rental booking.
In the U.S., one of those features, automated restaurant reservation booking, has already received a wider release. As part of Google Assistant in Chrome, Duplex is also being tested on movie ticket booking sites. However, car rentals and haircut scheduling have yet to be formally announced.
Why we should care. If this particular test rolls out to more markets, it could
Duplex powers some Google Assistant features, and as more of Duplex’s capabilities get developed and released, it may allow the Assistant to differentiate itself from other voice assistants, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa. This may entice more users to stay in or switch to Google’s ecosystem and the more users Google has within that ecosystem, the more important it will be for businesses to have a presence on Google’s services.