Google CEO Sundar Pichai detailed a number of new Google Assistant features during his annual I/O keynote, the creepiest of which was an announcement that the voice assistant will be able to call up businesses on your behalf in the very near future.
The reasoning behind the new feature is pretty sound. 60% of small businesses in the US don’t offer any form of online booking, so you have to call if you want to book a haircut at a hairdresser, or a table at a restaurant.
But that’s where it gets a little bit creepy. So that you don’t have to call up the business yourself, Google has trained Assistant to be able to make the call for you.
Google’s first example was using the voice assistant to book a haircut. The user typed in what kind of haircut they’d like between what times and the assistant was able to call up and have a convincing conversation with the salon’s secretary. And by convincing we really do mean convincing.
“Powered by a new technology we call Google Duplex, the Assistant can understand complex sentences, fast speech, and long remarks, so it can respond naturally in a phone conversation,” says Google.
“Even though the calls will sound very natural, the Assistant will be clear about the intent of the call so businesses understand the context.”
Once the appointment was booked, Assistant knew to place a calendar event in the user’s Google Calendar.
A true digital assistant
The second interaction was even more impressive. Despite the fact that the restaurant didn’t accept reservations for the amount of people Google Assistant was trying to book for, the voice assistant was still able to navigate the conversation to establish that waiting times wouldn’t be too long if the party turned up that evening.
For its final trick, Pichai detailed how the Assistant could make a phone call to establish a business’s opening times, before automatically updating its listing on the search engine.
It was a pretty stunning moment from I/O, but we couldn’t help but be a little taken aback at how effective it was. The new functionality is going to be tested over the coming weeks and months, but no full release has yet been announced.
Would you trust Google Assistant to book a haircut on your behalf? Let us know @TrustedReviews.