Google announces the end of “Duplex on the web”, the purge continues

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Artificial intelligence is at the heart of Google’s strategy to develop its products. And among those who have largely benefited from the firm’s advances in AI, there is Google Assistant.

Thanks to Google research, Assistant is now able to transcribe the voice commands of its users without an internet connection. The assistant has also acquired many smart features, including Duplex.

When presenting this technology in 2018, Google made a very strong impression. Duplex is a Google Assistant feature that can make phone calls for you to make reservations. For example, where this feature is available, the user can ask Google Assistant to reserve a restaurant table for them.

Once the request has been accepted by Assistant, Duplex calls the restaurant, dialogues with it, and reserves the table. The idea, as always, is to save the user time.

Duplex on the web, a 2.0 autocomplete?

After introducing Duplex in 2018, the following year Google introduced a new product called Duplex on the web. Also using artificial intelligence, Google offers another Assistant feature that fills in online registration forms for the user.

“Just ask the assistant ‘Book a car with National for my next trip’ and they’ll take care of the rest. The assistant will navigate the site and enter your information, such as trip details saved in your Gmail account or payment information saved in Chrome”explained Google.

Google Duplex on the web

Image: Google

In essence, it was a kind of autocompletion 2.0 (when Google Chrome automatically fills in form fields) on which the user has almost nothing to do, when he registers on an online service.

Unfortunately, if the technology seemed promising when it was launched, it ultimately did not have the expected success. And at a time when the crisis is forcing Google to tighten its belt and optimize its resources, the firm decides to end the development of “Duplex on the web”.

The end of a promising AI

It is not known when Google decided to end this project, since there was no announcement. However, a Google help page indicates that as of December 2022, Duplex on the web technology is deprecated. “Any automation features enabled by Duplex on the web will no longer be supported after this date,” it also reads.

The good news is that Duplex will continue to exist, since this deprecation only affects the part that automatically filled in forms on websites.

“As we continue to improve the Duplex experience, we’re responding to feedback we’ve heard from users and developers about how to make it even better,” a Google spokesperson was quoted by Engadget as saying. He specified that the firm will focus on the “vocal” part of Duplex, which would be more useful.

Google’s graveyard grows

The Duplex on the web functionality joins the very long list of products and services that the firm has killed. Among the other Google apps and services that will soon disappear is Stadia, the firm’s cloud gaming service. Currently, Google is in the process of refunding player purchases on this platform.

Unfortunately, the macroeconomic context should encourage the firm to kill even more products and services, when these are not a hit. Although the situation at Google is no worse than that of Meta, the company also needs to tighten its belt and optimize its resources.
Google Assistant would be put in the background

It should also be noted that Google is ending the development of the web version of Google Duplex while recently, rumors have suggested that as part of its reorganization, Google could put Google Assistant on the back burner. More precisely, according to an article by The Information, Google has decided to reduce the number of engineers working on its personal assistant, and to allocate more resources to the development of its Pixel devices.

In essence, the idea would be to increase the market share of Pixel smartphones, to counter Apple and fill the void that would be left by some Android smartphone manufacturers.

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