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Google is killing “Duplex on the Web,” an automatic website navigation feature

Google is killing "Duplex on the Web," an automatic website navigation feature
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To enlarge 🇧🇷 After clicking the “Buy ticket” button, Google Assistant takes over.

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Google is shutting down a rather obscure project: Google Duplex on the Internet. “Duplex” is Google’s branding for an AI that performs “simple yet familiar tasks that save you time.” Branding exists in two products: this “web” function and Google human-like voice AI, the latter still works as far as we know. This version of Duplex – Duplex on the Web – was a Google Assistant feature that could autonomously navigate websites on your behalf and do things like buy things and check-in for flights. This feature could not be very popular and TechCrunch speckled support page Update on the internet saying Duplex will be dead by the end of the month.

duplex on the internet has been activated It was announced at Google I/O in late 2019 and earlier that year. The normal checkout process for an item involves a lot of navigating and pasting saved data. If it’s a reservation, you’d have to find the item and possibly the desired time slot, enter your billing information, and “next” a lot of shuffling, and Duplex on the Web should have been able to do all that autonomously. It would probably be faster and more reliable if the companies just created a voice API, but Duplex on the Internet was a hack. The assistant opens its own web browser and clicks through individual inspection screens as you watch. Google’s automated mouse clicker would theoretically scale well because it could bring voice support to a website without the website owner having to do any work.

Now he is dead. Google’s support page states that “Duplex on the web is deprecated and will no longer be supported as of the end of this month. Any automation features enabled by Duplex on the web will no longer be supported after this date.” Google told TechCrunch, “By the end of this year, we will abandon Duplex on the Internet and focus entirely on developing artificial intelligence in the Duplex voice technology that helps people the most every day.”

We’re going to take a wild guess and say that the reason Duplex is dying on the Web is because it’s not being used. One (many) are the main problems with voice assistants command line interfaces🇧🇷 There is no UI or buttons to give people a clue as to what functionality is available, so users only to know which commands are worth saying. Many people are probably wondering “what will the weather be like tomorrow?” is a valuable command, but few people knew that the Assistant could autonomously go to a website to buy a movie ticket or check-in for a flight on your behalf. At least command line interfaces have a “help” command that displays a large list of commands. Since there isn’t a comprehensive list of accepted commands for Google Assistant, it’s not clear how someone should learn about these features.

Besides the perpetual discovery problem, it’s not clear that this feature actually solves the problem. Buying something online or checking in for a flight isn’t that difficult because companies are already trying to make it as simple as possible.

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