Yesterday, Google announced a bunch of new devices — Chrome Slate, Pixel 3, Home Hub — and lots of new features. I’m going to unpack these over the next few days, but when it comes to AI and voice, there were more interesting — Google Screen and Google Duplex.
Google Screen. Instead of sending unknown calls to voicemail, this feature can ask the user to identify themself and the reason for the call. It reminds me a lot of Google Phone now and asking you to announce yourself when you call someone with the feature. If we project out 2–3 years, will this be the de facto way we handle calls or will it be the equivalent of ringback tones?
Google Duplex. Google gave more info on timeframe and types of tasks that the Assistant will support. In the next month or so, Pixel users will be able to handle certain appointment booking (hair and restaurant) to businesses that don’t have online booking tools.
Google Home Hub. The most interesting non-feature was the lack of camera. Apparently, Google made a jab at Facebook and Amazon for having cameras in their devices. Glass houses, Google. Glass houses.
What’s interesting is typing these two features to the hardware. Google has access to much more lower level information about the device and the user. It can determine the location of the user with more accuracy and any of the other sensor data on the phone. This can be used to authenticate the caller more so than if the service was being accessed through an app on another hardware maker’s device.
What we’re likely going to see over the next year is a new battleground — the battle for your voice. Those who can tap into your voice get access to your wallet.