Today Google gave us a small status update on its snazzy Assistant-powered Duplex technology, which leverages AI for conversational applications — of which there are tons. Although much of the company’s discussion reiterated things it’s already done, like rolling out Duplex to check for updated hours in these “new-normal” times, it did reveal a new pilot program.
As part of the summary announcement, Google went back over all the things Duplex has accomplished, like check for updated business hours and the new Hold For Me feature on the company’s latest Pixels. While Duplex has been able to book tables at restaurants and buy movie tickets for a while, the company has also revealed that it’s piloting a program for more general shopping and even ordering food. Details are lacking, but as an unfortunate GrubHub addict (who still laments the death of Foodler), I can’t wait.
We should note, the Assistant itself has had integrations for food delivery services directly for some time, but this is different. It’s not just ordering via DoorDash or Postmates via an Assistant action. If this is using Duplex, that means it should probably work with any restaurant’s service, assuming they can take an order over the phone. That’s great because a lot of businesses still don’t play nice with the big, admittedly slightly evil food delivery services. Plenty of the joints in my local neighborhood require a direct call or their own online ordering system, and this promises to make that process easier and automated for super-lazy folks like me, without forcing businesses to capitulate to ridiculous fees or the contractor employee abuse of most food-delivery services.
There’s no word on when this pilot program might expand, but I assume Google will announce if and when it does.