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Google to sunset robocalling service Duplex for websites next month

Google to sunset robocalling service Duplex for websites next month
Photo Credit: Pixabay
5 Dec, 2022
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Google is discontinuing the web version of its automated calling service Duplex, which uses Google Assistant to make phone calls to place online orders or book appointments or services on behalf of users. Introduced at the 2019 I/O developer event, Duplex for web was an extension of a similar feature that was first launched on Pixel devices in 2018. 

Duplex for web was aimed at businesses that wanted to offer customers the option to order food or book flight tickets on their website using Google Assistant.

“Duplex on the Web is deprecated, and will no longer be supported as of December 2022. Any automation features enabled by Duplex on the Web will no longer be supported after this date,” Google said on its updated Google Search Console help page.

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Initially available only in the US, Duplex was expanded to more countries including India, UK, Australia, Canada, Spain, France, Brazil, and Japan in 2020.

According to Google, Duplex is a recurrent neural network (RNN) trained on anonymised phone conversation data. It leverages Google’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology along with the history of the audio conversation and other parameters such as the time, and purpose of the call.

RNN is a type of neural network that uses sequential data or time series data, where the output from a previous step is used as input for the next step. It is used for language translation, natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition, and image captioning. It is also used by Apple’s voice assistants Siri and Google Translate.

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Though Duplex is trained to carry out a natural conversation and sound real over a phone call, Google acknowledges that it is not ready to carry out a general conversation and has to be restrained for closed conversations.

Though Google didn’t give a specific reason for shutting down Duplex on the web, the move can be attributed to its resource-intensive operations. According to Google, Duplex required businesses to allow it to train periodically on the data generated by their website to perform certain actions. Disabling training would impact the accuracy of Google Assistant during Duplex calls.