Google Duplex Now in 43 States, Coming to iOS and Other Android Smartphones
Google announced in a blog post yesterday that Google Duplex is now available in 43 states on Pixel smartphones and will be coming “over the next few weeks…to more Android and iOS devices.” The seven states without Duplex at the moment include Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, and Texas. It is not clear whether there is service in the District of Columbia.
The blog post mentions only Pixel phones today, but Google’s support documentation says that it is available on “Android devices running version 5.0 or newer.” That version was launched in 2014 and Statcounter data suggests 89% of Android phones in use today meet the “5.0 or newer” requirement. The support documentation also says that Google Duplex is available on iOS devices through the Google Assistant so these references must be in place anticipating the near-term availability on those mobile platforms. The only use case referenced in the announcement is making restaurant reservations. However, asking for store information such as operating hours is listed in the support documentation as an active feature.
Google Duplex Concerns Quickly Addressed Before Broad Rollout
Google Duplex was announced in May 2018 and officially rolled out in four cities in November. Some people initially expressed concern about legal notification requirements of some states requiring two-party consent for recording telephone conversations and others focused in on the ethical considerations of whether call recipients should be informed they are speaking to an AI-based assistant and not a human. The latter concern is based on the humanlike qualities of Google Duplex’s conversational abilities when applied to focused use cases. Since that time, Google has addressed most of these concerns and criticism has ebbed. Both consumers and businesses appear to view the service as a net benefit for reservation scheduling activities. Now we will see whether widespread adoption in 2019 follows the widespread hype and hysteria of 2018.