Along with today’s launch of the new Pixel 6 smartphones, Google has again updated one of the most basic, but often overlooked, features of the device: the ability to make phone calls. In previous years, the Google Assistant learned to screen your calls and make your reservations over the phone through a technology called Duplex. Last year, he also learned to wait for you. Today, Google is in expansion some of these existing features and the addition of new ones, including a tool that shows you the best time to call a business and a new duplex feature for navigating business phone trees.
With the Phone app on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, a new feature called “Timeouts” will show the projected time it will take to reach a person when dialing a toll-free number. You will be able to see this information before making the call now only for the current moment, but also for the rest of the week. This information can allow you to make a better decision about when to make the call.
Of course, to display this information, Google is taking advantage of its ability to collect data from its users. Similar to how Google Maps will show you when a business is busiest using anonymous data from Maps users, “wait times” are inferred from call duration data when calls are made through the app. from your phone. This data is not linked to individual users, Google says.
Another new addition is the “Route My Call” feature, which will help you overcome complicated phone trees when calling a business. Instead of listening and trying to remember the many options presented (for example, “Press 1 for times and locations”), the Google Assistant will translate automated messages for you. This allows you to re-read the options to see which number you want to touch to get the information you need, or to reach a live agent, as is often the case.
In the past, users frustrated with difficult customer service calls may have converted third-party apps and websites like GetHuman, to find out how to get to a real person more quickly. But these websites are not always up to date. Direct My Call offers an alternative. You can multitask or even configure your phone while the various options are read out loud, something that is tedious to have to listen to in real time. When you return to the phone, you can read the available options and choose the one you need. (The feature could also help those who are hearing impaired, but do not yet require a TTY.)
Like the reservation setup feature above, “Direct My Call” also works with Google Duplex technology.
Duplex is sometimes confused with the reservation scheduling feature itself, which was one of the first big use cases for the technology when it debuted. But Duplex itself It doesn’t just allow natural-sounding conversations to schedule your appointments. It can also be used to understand. In the case of “Direct My Call”, for example, Duplex uses advanced speech recognition and language understanding models to help determine when the company wants you to do something, like press a number, say a word (like “representative” ) or enter your account number, among other things.
In addition to “Direct My Call” and “Wait Times”, which are launching with Pixel devices, Google is also expanding access to “Hold for Me” at the moment.
Since its launch last year in the US, the feature has saved users more than 1.5 million minutes per month. In the coming months, it will also start rolling out for Pixel users in Australia, Canada and Japan, Google says.
Meanwhile, Google’s existing call screening features are also being updated.
Before, Google’s own caller ID coverage would help users identify spam and other calls from unknown numbers. Now, it will also allow users to contribute data about their incoming business calls. That means you will be able to share the type of business that called you (for example, bill collectors, finance, utilities, etc.) so that other people who receive the same call in the future know what to expect. This data is shared without any personal identifier, Google notes. The company believes this will help double the number of companies with caller identification information in the future.
In addition, the call selection will expand to more markets. In the US, Canada and Japan, you are now filtering 37 million calls per month. Starting today, it will also be rolled out to Pixel users in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Italy, and Spain.
Google typically rolls out new features to its latest Pixel phones first, before rolling them out to more Pixel or Android devices more broadly over time. That means “Timeouts” and “Direct My Call” will likely be unique to Pixel 6 phones for some time, initially.