Here’s how to use Google Duplex to make reservations
Google, I need to eat. Make me a reservation. I’m not saying please.
Google’s creepy Duplex service is now out in the wild, enabling users to tell their Pixel phone make reservations for them while Google Assistant handles all the specifics in the background. Thanks to Duplex, Google Assistant can call your chosen restaurant, have a full voice conversation with the employee on the other end, and send you a confirmation that the reservation was successful, adding it to your Calendar. Truly what a time to be alive.
All sarcasm aside, I love the idea of this service and can’t wait for it to turn up on my Pixel 2 (eventually, I hope). Duplex can sound pretty human, which forced Google to make a minor change to the service so it announces that it’s an AI that the poor employee is talking to.
Eventually, the service will be able to do more stuff, like make salon appointments and call businesses to check their opening hours for you. In its current state, Duplex is strictly for making dinner reservations.
Here’s the kicker. Google’s only testing Duplex with a “small” group of Pixel 3 and 3 XL users in “select cities.” That small group of cities includes Atlanta, New York, Phoenix, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Eventually, Google has said it will ramp up to other locations. Duplex currently doesn’t work on other Android phones or other Assistant-enabled devices like Google Home.
Ahh the magic bit
Assuming you meet the requirements, get Google Assistant open on your Pixel by squeezing the Active Edge, holding the home icon, or saying “OK Google (or Hey Google if you have that set).” From there, you can ask Assistant to make a reservation. To avoid traditional search results for services like OpenTable and get Duplex to respond, specify “make a dinner reservation” or “make a lunch reservation.”
Then it’s time to pick your spot of choice. Assistant will show you a short list of nearby restaurants, usually three or four. Just be aware that at this stage, not every restaurant on the list might be a place Duplex can call to make reservations at. If the restaurant you pick isn’t able to be called, Google Assistant will let you know with “I can’t make reservations at that particular restaurant.”
Once fully rolled out, Google has said that Duplex will be opt-out for businesses. That means the majority of places it suggests should be able to work with the service. You can also trim the suggestion lists by asking for a particular cuisine during the reservation request.
If you select a restaurant that Duplex can call, Assistant will then ask you for more details, like how many people your party will be, and what day and time you’d like it for. It also asks for a backup timeframe in case of no availability for your original request.
Assistant then asks for the okay to book under your name and phone number. It will give the restaurant your first name and also your contact details in case they need to get in touch.
Once you give it the go-ahead, Duplex places the voice call to the restaurant. It will identify itself as calling from Google, and that the call is being recorded, undoubtedly confusing some employees until it becomes more widespread.
It will then use Google’s AI technology to place your reservation with the details you gave it. Most calls will be done by the AI and identified as such to the restaurant. Some calls are made by human operators, presumably as a baseline to train the AI model further.
Google has set a 15-minute time frame to do the call and update the user on their reservation status. Either way, you’ll get told so you can get back to whatever you were doing.
Change of plans
Duplex can also cancel reservations if you, unfortunately, can’t make a prior booking. As a measure against malicious abuse of the system, Assistant will warn you that Duplex won’t be able to call that restaurant again for the rest of that day. With great power comes great responsibility or something. Be nice with your AI Assistant, or you might find the feature taken away.
Duplex is pretty mysterious right now, unlike Call Screen which now gives you a transcript of the call after the fact, Duplex just lets you know if it was successful or not. Google might be planning to give transcripts, although there are some thorny legal issues about recording phone calls depending on which state users live in.
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