You can now make a reservation on your Pixel Phone and have Google Assistant do it all in the background. Using Google's duplex technology, Assistant will make a call to the restaurant of your choice, hold a conversation with the agent at the other end, and send you a confirmation that the reservation has been successful and has been canceled.
Duplex can sound incredibly human. It's a wonder of AI advancement. Google has indicated that it is finally possible to arrange appointments in salons or to call companies to check their business hours for you (provided they are not listed on Google Maps). At the moment, this technology is intended exclusively for restaurant reservations.
Where is Google Duplex?
Google says it started testing duplex with a "small" group of Pixel 3 and 3 XL owners in "selected cities". The company had previously announced that tests would take place in Atlanta. New York, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area before expanding to other locations. The Verge obtained no special press access to test the service; It is already live on several personal phones that are used by the editor.
Users must own a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL smartphone and be in a test city. Duplex does not yet work on Android phones from other companies or on devices like Google Home speakers or Smart Displays with Google Assistant.
Ask the Google Assistant to make a duplex reservation.
Access the Google Assistant on your Pixel by holding down the Home icon or say "Ok Google." There, ask the assistant to make a reservation. Now I've noticed that the mere statement "reservation" leads to traditional search results for OpenTable and other services being displayed. That's not what you want. However, if you specify that you want to reserve a dinner or reserve a lunch, this is sufficient to enable Duplex.
Choose the place you want to go
It will be a bit tricky here. When you ask for a reservation, Assistant will show you a list of three or four nearby restaurants. However, at this early beta stage, there is no guarantee that Duplex will be able to call and make reservations at any of these locations. It's all trial and error, and you'll hear a lot from "I Can not Make Reservations in That Particular Restaurant" by Assistant. I asked the company if there was an easy way I miss, but it does not seem that way.
Google has said duplex will appeal to businesses as it gets more and more extensive over time, but during this early beta period, the list of restaurants it wants to choose seems very limited. You can ask for a particular kitchen or a quarter in addition to your reservation request to delete the list. It makes sense that Google does not display only restaurants that make duplex calls, as you can make reservations through OpenTable, but I wish duplexing could be used more easily without too many incorrect estimates. This is something Google needs – and I suspect – will improve if Duplex is available to more users.
Tell Google how many people go at what time and at what time.
If you land in a restaurant where is working, the assistant will ask and ask for the number of people for whom the reservation is made. On which day do you want to book and when do you want to arrive? In case your original request has already been booked, you will be asked for a backup period.
Enter your OK to book using your name and phone number.
The last step is to give Google a final confirmation to proceed with the reservation. It gives the restaurant your first name as well as your telephone number if you need to contact them.
Duplex makes a reservation within 15 minutes.
After you give the green light, Duplex calls the call to the restaurant, where he uses Google's AI technology to have a quick chat with the restaurant staff. Duplex recognizes that it is calling from Google and notes that the call may be recorded before going to the reservation details. When the AI makes the calls – and most duplex calls fall under it – Google will confirm that the call is automated. However, some duplex calls are made by human operators on Google.
Google promises to inform the user of the reservation status within 15 minutes. My tests were all successful and a confirmation e-mail arrived very quickly except in a case where the restaurant had closed earlier. If a place can not be reached, so much will be communicated to you instead of being left in the dark.
Duplex can also cancel reservations
In addition to setting up reservations, Duplex can recall a restaurant with the bad news that it is not possible. Whenever you do this, Google warns that Duplex will not be able to call the restaurant for the rest of the day. This is a measure that is clearly designed to prevent businesses from spamming business with duplex calls.
Google has announced that it will prevent abuse of the system through various methods. Multiple cancellations are likely to identify unusual activities. It is not difficult for the company to individually lock access when complaining about calls made to a specific Google Account. If you use Google's robotic AI to annoy people, you may lose helpfulness. Use the robots responsibly.
Wait. But … what happened ?
Here's the point: From a user's perspective, you never know exactly how a call went or what was said. Google does not yet offer transcription of duplex calls and you can not listen to audio recording.
This is the strangest part of using duplex in those early days. It works as promised, but it leaves a lot of puzzles behind. I really want to hear those calls, but for now my curiosity – and yours when you first use them – remains unfulfilled.