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Google shuts down Duplex on the Web: its attempt to bring AI smarts to retail sites.

Duplex on the Web, a suite of AI-powered services from Google that traversed websites to make ordering food, buying movie tickets, and other tasks easier, is being discontinued. Google on the Web and any automation features provided by it will no longer be supported as of this month, according to information available on the Google support page.

A Google representative wrote via email, saying, “We are responding to user and developer suggestions for how to make the Duplex experience even better as we continue to do so”. The representative also said Duplex on the Web partners had been informed of the shutdown to help them get ready. By the end of this year, we’ll reject Duplex on the Web and devote all of our attention to improving Duplex voice technology using AI.

Development of its call-automation Duplex technology, Google unveiled Duplex on the Web at its 2019 Google I/O developer conference. It initially concentrated on a few specific use cases, such as opening a movie theatre chain’s website and completing all the required fields on behalf of the user while pausing to prompt for choices like seats.

However, Duplex on the Web later included support for passwords, enabling users to change passwords revealed in a data breach quickly. It also provided checkout support for e-commerce sites, fly check-in support for airline websites, and automatic discount finding.

With Duplex on the Web, you were supposed to be able to ask Google Assistant to do something like, “Book me a vehicle from Hertz.” A duplex would open the appropriate web page and fill in information like your name, car preferences, travel dates, and payment information for you (using data from Gmail and Chrome autofill). However, the implementation started slowly, with only a few partners and sites-enabled for particular use cases.

There’s little doubt that some firms didn’t like the thought of Google getting in the way of their relationships with consumers. However, cuts to Google’s Assistant division may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The belief that other aspects of the business, including hardware, will prove to be more profitable in the long run has led Google, according to a recent story in The Information, to plan to invest less in developing Google Assistant for devices not created by Google.

If that’s the case, only time will tell. Duplex on the Web has undoubtedly entered the famed hall of much-hyped-then-forgotten Google products.


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