Google Assistant wants to make your calls for you

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Google's annual developer conferences are full of new and interesting announcements. According to reports from Android Police, the functionality has already started to roll out.

The company's digital concierge, known only as the Google Assistant, is getting new voices - including one based on that of musician John Legend - later this year. Let's say you searched for a movie telling "A Quiet Place", it will display an option to watch the trailer on YouTube, and provide you with a website to book the movie tickets, all of these right away from the search bar.

At the core of it, Duplex is a recurrent neural network that can be trained for highly specialised tasks and it uses Google's automatic speech recognition technology, so it can interface with the user. There are two ways to do this: the first is if you only use Google Assistant on your phone, and the second is if you own some form of Google Home hardware, like the Google Home Max.

CEO Sundar Pichai played back a phone call recording on Sunday that he said was placed by the Assistant to a hair salon. From the looks of it, it would be like giving any other command to the Assistant. If the booking is successfully done, you then get a notification and a calendar entry, where you can check if the appointment was made correctly. When used with such smart home devices, the virtual assistant can be instructed to use different voices when replying to certain users.

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Voice 7 - (Female) - A very low-toned voice.

Duplex is meant to promote "Time Well Spent", a nonprofit by former Googler Tristan Harris that focuses on ethical design of products rather than just selling advertising. When it spoke more like a human, people on the other side of the line were more likely to interact with it.

In the demo, the Google Assistant sounded like a human. Other areas of concern would be, can someone misuse it to make random reservations or appointments? See the Walmart site for more information. It will also convert photos to PDFs and automatically add colour to black-and-white photos or make part of a colour photo black and white. We are quite excited to see how this technology evolves as based on what we've seen, it could prove to be a real game changer when applied correctly. Based on a Google blog post, we know Duplex isn't an A.I. chatterbox capable of open-ended conversations.

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