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Google Duplex expands to ‘small group’ of Pixel owners

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The expansion continues

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google Duplex, the automated service that calls up businesses to make bookings on your behalf, has received a limited public launch, reports VentureBeat. In a statement, Google said that it’s starting its “slow rollout” of the service, which is now available to a “small group” of Google Pixel phone owners in “select cities.” As well as expanding its availability with users, the service can also call restaurants that Google hasn’t explicitly partnered with.

As this statement implies, the service has launched in a state that’s very limited — even compared to what Google demoed on stage when it first announced the service. For now, if you’re able to access the service you’ll be restricted to restaurant bookings (so no haircut appointments just yet), and some restaurants will be unavailable for reasons that occasionally aren’t entirely clear. Pixel phones are only supported right now, meaning no smart displays or other handsets, and Google Assistant will only make English-speaking calls in the cities that Google has specifically selected for the trial. It’s unclear how long it’ll take for the service to overcome each of these limitations, but since Google is recording all its current Duplex calls it’s likely to be gathering a lot of important usage data now that the rollout has begun.

Google Duplex being available to the public has given us our first opportunity to see how the service actually works in practice. The option to have Google Assistant make the call can be accessed either by generally asking for it to “make a reservation,” or you can find a specific restaurant and request a table from there. A quick back and forth conversation with Google then occurs in which you give details such as the party size, date, time, and give a backup phone number. Then, once the booking has been made it gets transferred into your “My Reservations” list along with other appointments that have been pulled from your emails or manually added into your calendar.

Google is yet to confirm when the service may become more publicly available. We’ve reached out to Google for comment, and we’ll update this article when we hear back.