Pixel phones to begin making Google Duplex AI voice calls in November

But the human-sounding Google Assistant tech will be limited to some cities at first.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
Google's Rick Osterloh touted his company's combination of hardware, software and artificial intelligence technology at the the Google Pixel 3 launch event.

Google's Rick Osterloh touted his company's combination of hardware, software and artificial intelligence technology at its Pixel 3 event.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Duplex, technology to let human-sounding AI accomplish tasks by talking to people over the phone, will arrive in the real world starting in November on Google's Pixel phones.

"Our new Google Assistant feature, powered by Duplex technology, is able to help users with real-world tasks over a phone, like calling a restaurant to book a table," said Brian Rakowski, a vice president of product management, at the Google Pixel 3 launch event Tuesday. "Pixel phones will be the first to get this feature when it rolls out, city by city, next month."

Watch this: Google shows off the Pixel 3 and PIxel 3 XL

That indicates the arrival will be gradual and won't reach the vast majority of people who don't have Google's own smartphones. However, it's apparently for any Pixel phone owner, not just for the new Pixel 3. And Google has spread its Google Assistant technology to many other devices and parts of the world, so expect the narrower initial scope to broaden.

Google unveiled Duplex in May at its Google I/O conference, wowing people with its realistically human voice and speech mannerisms in demonstrations of making a hair appointment and reserving a table at a restaurant. But this early progress in passing the Turing test -- proving artificial intelligence by convincing humans that they could be talking to fellow Homo sapiens, not a computer -- came with worrisome complications, too. That's why the company later added a disclosure so humans know they're talking to Google Duplex, not a person.

Google started limited beta testing of Duplex in June.

The Google Assistant technology shows the potential of Google's technology -- its understanding of human voices, its ability to perform sophisticated searches from a vast corpus of information, its Android software to power billions of smartphones.

But for it to succeed fully, Google will have to overcome privacy concerns, too. Most of Google's revenue comes from advertising, and much of that advertising is targeted at you on the basis of personal details Google infers from what you share and do online.

Scenes from Google's Pixel 3 event

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