Google quietly updated its support page to reveal that Duplex, the tech giant’s human-like, AI-powered chat agent capable of scheduling appointments and gathering other information over the phone, is now available in a limited capacity in the U.K., Australia and Canada.
The updated information page features the numbers Duplex is using to call businesses across each country. This page previously only listed businesses in the U.S. and New Zealand, Duplex’s initial launch regions. Duplex first launched on Pixel devices before making its way to iOS and then more Android smartphones.
Back in early March, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the tech giant is using Duplex to contact businesses to confirm closures and adjusted hours to ensure Google Search and Maps feature accurate information.
At the start of every Duplex call the person on the other end is informed that they’re being recorded, according to Google. If the individual taking the call doesn’t want to be recorded, the call is then handed off to a human operator that annotates the call transcripts.
Google first showed off Duplex at its 2018 I/O developer conference. The AI assistant was criticized by many for using speech so natural it sounded like an actual person, including even common fluctuations like “ums” and “ahs.” Google then stated that Duplex would confirm it’s an AI assistant at the start of every call to ensure the person on the other end is aware they’re talking to artificial intelligence and not an actual person.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing in Canada, it makes sense for Google to be leveraging Duplex to gather the most up to date store hours and closure information possible.