Duplex Is Officially Here

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Duplex Is Officially Here

Time after time we’ve seen Google Duplex in the news, but it’s always been just on the horizon for the mass market.  Well here’s some news that isn’t just a tease: Duplex is now on your phone!

Pixels Now Have Duplex:

Ok, sorry to get your hopes up if you’re not team Pixel, but if you are, then this is good news for you. Google has just rolled out Duplex to Pixel phones in 43 states.  This means that if you own a Pixel and live in one of these states, you can now have your Google Assistant call on your behalf.  Looking for a restaurant reservation?  Just say “Ok Google, make a reservation at ___”.

That’s it.  Duplex will call the restaurant and take care of everything else.  Ok, it will ask you a few more details (such as for what time and for how many people), but it takes care of all the conversing on the phone.  The future is now.

Just how good is it?

Google actually received a ton of criticism after I/O last year when Duplex made its debut.  People were concerned that it mimicked a human toowell.  In June the company promised that Google Assistant would introduce itself before engaging in any conversation.  If you’ve used Google’s call screening feature before then you’re somewhat familiar with this introduction.

Duplex uses Google’s WaveNet audio processing neural network, and as such it sounds incredibly natural.  It throws “ums” into the conversation to mimic how people actually converse. While these may seem arbitrary, the VP of engineering for Google Assistant said that they are actually the key to keeping people engrossed in conversation.  Otherwise things start to feel too artificial and people hang up.

Opting Out:

While this technology is incredible, there are certainly going to be people that want nothing to do with it yet.  And as such Duplex makes it very clear that the call is automated, and informs everyone it calls that their being recorded.  If they respond with anything along the lines of “I don’t want to be recorded” or “I don’t want to speak with this” then the call is handed off to a human operator.

There’s sure to be some legal/ethical issues that arise despite this, but it’s good to at least see people are given the option to opt out.  Duplex is going to continue its rollout to other devices over time, and eventually it will just be taken for granted.  But for now its cutting edge tech and Pixel users can take advantage of it.

What are your thoughts on Duplex and its rollout?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Duplex Makes its Debut

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Duplex Makes its Debut

At Google I/O 2018 we saw a breathtaking performance on the center stage.  The world watched as Google Assistant placed a call to a hair salon and booked an appointment.  This new feature known as Duplex has been marketed as your new secretary, but unfortunately up until  now it’s just been an exciting video to watch.  Things are changing though, and Pixel 3’s are about to start seeing Duplex roll out onto their phones.

Duplex:

From a 3rd party view what was so amazing was how lifelike the conversation appeared.  Though the conversation took place between a computer and a real person, it was borderline impossible to tell which was which.  Google Assistant dialed the company’s phone number and then conversed with a receptionist on the other side.  It even went as far as to throw in lifelike “mhmm”’s. 

This was the first peek into Duplex, and since then we’ve seen the Pixel 3 elaborate on the release.  The newest flagship phone users have the option to avoid calls from unknown numbers.  They leave the dirty work of figuring out who is calling to Duplex which talks to callers and displays a transcript of the conversation to users.  The beauty of this is that you’ll never have to talk to a telemarketer again!

The Rollout begins:

Duplex has been big talk recently but that’s been it.  Now Google has announced it’s rolling out the feature to a select number of Pixel owners in select cities.  If you own a pixel and live in Atlanta, New York, Phoenix, or San Francisco then you’ll get to be one of the first beta testers.  As a Pixel 3 owner myself I’m waiting eagerly for the next wave, but it’s good to know progress is being made.

As expected there are initial limitations on the feature such as it only being able to make calls in English.  People using Duplex will be able to use it with commands as simple as “Hey Google, make a restaurant reservation”.  Yes, it would help to specify where, but the concept is that you have to do next to nothing!

Opting Out:

Google has also said that businesses can opt out of the service by toggling an option in their Google My Business account.  Or if a business answers the phone and says, “I don’t want to be recorded” (or something similar) they are opted out.  It seems Google is preparing for the inevitable backlash from businesses and people who don’t want any part of the system.

What are your thoughts on Duplex rolling out to Pixel phones?  Are you counting down the days until you can use it too?  Let us know in the comments below.

Counting down to Google I/O 2018

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Counting down to Google I/O 2018

 

Google I/O is just around the corner.  Developers and Android users around the world are gearing up to see what’s in store for the coming year.  Theories about what the annual conference will entail are floating about, and Google’s recently updated its event schedule.  With last years discussions about AI, VR, and Android O things are sure to be interesting.

So what’s on the agenda for this year?

Android P

We’ve talked about Android P before here at RootJunky.com, and it’s sure to be discussed in a little more detail at the conference.  P (currently Pistachio Ice Cream) was first released as a developer preview at the beginning of March.  It’s featured things such as an improved notification system, notch support, and triangulated position with Wi-Fi for incredibly accurate positioning.  It’s expected that Google will launch a beta program for any interested users soon (and maybe give a few more hints to the upcoming name).

AI

Artificial Intelligence was all the rage at last year’s conference with Google Lens allowing users to scan real life objects and receive information.  Couple this with Google Assistant and Google Home improvements, and AI seems to be at the forefront of every new technological movement. 

Google Assistant appears quite a few times in the current schedule, so it’s sure to be a big discussion topic.  Assistant is already loaded with tons of features, but it would be silly to leave it as is.  One session is titled “Design Actions for the Google Assistant: beyond smart speakers, to phones and smart displays”.

Assistant could be expanding past voice interactions and into visual cues.  Along with the fact that improvements involve allowing 3rd party app integration, there could be some seriously cool possibilities if the creativity door is open for developers to allow their apps to prompt the Assistant to take action.  Notice how vague I’m being?  It’s because of how open ended these features really could get if the connection is bridged.

AR/VR

In February Google officially released v1.0 of ARCore, the mixed reality development platform, allowing developers to easily integrate Augmented Reality into their apps (way more exciting than I just made it sound).  Our tutorial series shows how to integrate AR into your first app, but ARCore’s potential goes much deeper than what we cover.  I wouldn’t be surprised if plans to improve this platform and potentially incorporate it with Google Lens are underway.

Looking over the current schedule, tons of other topics will be covered in the upcoming conference.  I’ll be one of the many that don’t attend but tune into what I can online.  I’d highly suggest you do the same to stay on top of what’s new in the development world.  Or if you’d prefer, we’re sure to highlight the big parts here.  Stay tuned!

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