Google Duplex Expands to 3 New Countries
Google is expanding the Google Duplex voice AI service to Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The updated support page lists phone numbers that Google Duplex will use to call businesses in the three countries, along with the United States and New Zealand.
International Business Calls
Google Duplex is a kind of proactive, business-facing element of Google Assistant. It semi-independently calls on behalf of users to perform tasks such as making restaurant reservations and checking the opening time of a store. The program began in the U.S. in 2018, where it faced some pushback after it turned out some of Google Duplex calls were being made by humans. Google claimed that it was because of a lack of information about whether the restaurants take reservations.
Google extended the program to New Zealand in October in a pilot program. Google appears to be running a similarly limited version of Duplex in the three additional countries. As it has grown, the program has added new features like letting businesses opt-out of recordings and transferring them to the humans who also annotate the phone calls.
Google Duplex may also be useful for people and businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has partially or completely shut down so many restaurants and other businesses. The pilot program in New Zealand was built around the country’s Labor Day. Stores in the pilot group received calls from Google Duplex asking if the store would be closed for the holiday, and Duplex added those answers to Google’s database. People looking up the store’s hours through the Google search engine or on Google Maps would see the more accurate hours for the store.
The same real-time updates could be used via Google Duplex, either from the store owners or through the voicemail details a store owner might have updated. That would fit with what Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said that Google would use Duplex to check on updated hours. Duplex might take the middleman role for people who ask Google Assistant about the status and hours of local stores as the situation continues to evolve.