The pandemic has undoubtedly thrown the world’s economy into disarray. Businesses that have been able to survive so far had to make adjustments to their hours and procedures. Sometimes, the last thing on these businesses’ minds is to update their Google listings which, in turn, makes it actually harder to get customers. To help both groups of people, Google is putting its eerie but helpful Duplex to automate all of that with a simple phone call.
Introduced in 2018, Duplex is Google’s frighteningly convincing AI that is able to make phone calls that fool humans on the other end. The initial purpose was to make reservations at restaurants but has since then grown to include booking services or buying tickets. That was, however, during the old normal where every business’ operation was predictable.
Although it already started in the US last year, Duplex’s new feature makes even more sense during this pandemic. With a simple phone call, Duplex’s AI will be able to gather information about a store’s new operating hours, whether a restaurant accepts dine-ins or only pickups, or even it is actually still in business at all. Duplex will then update the business listing for said partner, showing the information on Google Search and Maps.
This means that businesses, at least those accessible via Duplex, no longer have to worry about manually updating their information while they’re too busy making ends meet. It also means that customers can be confident they’re seeing the most up-to-date information before they even make a decision to go out of their homes.
Google is reportedly also expanding Duplex’s coverage to shopping and food deliveries, two of the biggest businesses during these times. Google Assistant does already support these use cases but only for those with direct integration with the smart helper. Duplex, however, would also be able to cover more “traditional” stores and restaurants, presuming they can take orders over the phone.