Google starts rolling out Duplex feature that can call salons to book a haircut for you

Google Assistant will soon be able to book a haircut for you by calling a salon and requesting a time on your behalf. The feature was announced two years ago when Google first unveiled Duplex, its tech for having a human-sounding system call stores and make requests of whoever picks up. Its first (and only) consumer feature, making reservations at restaurants, launched in late 2018 in the US.

Google confirmed that the haircut booking feature is now rolling out in the US, though it isn’t yet available to everyone. VentureBeat first reported that the feature had started to launch.

When booking a haircut, Google asks you what date and time you’d like to schedule the appointment. You can tell the service a time range, too, so it can make adjustments if needed. The feature only supports booking three basic services, though: a men’s cut, a women’s cut, or a general haircut, according to VentureBeat. So if you wanted to do anything other than that or go to a salon that uses different naming conventions (gender-specific pricing is illegal in some places), you’ll have to get on the phone yourself.

Google’s voice tech has proven to be really impressive. It inserts filler words like “um” and “mm-hmm” to make the conversation feel natural to the person on the other end of the line. That generated some controversy when the service was first announced, in part because Google wasn’t being particularly clear with callers that a robot was on the line. Google later said it would be more transparent and build a disclosure into the calls.

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