MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google on Tuesday showed off an updated virtual assistant that can call restaurants, hair salons and other businesses to check hours and make reservations, holding conversations on a user’s behalf.
The announcement at Google I/O, an annual event held since 2008 to share new tools and strategies with creators of products that work with Google software and hardware, shows how the company is responding to rising competition from big tech companies over virtual assistants, shopping and devices.
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Google played phone conversations between the assistant and people at a restaurant and hair salon. The assistant responded to several questions to make a hair appointment and find out when the restaurant line would be short.
Google said it would begin in summer to test the technology, called Duplex, to call businesses.
The updates reflect Google’s plan to add artificial intelligence to more of its services, as advances in the computing technique enable software to identify objects in a photo, detect anomalies in vast quantities of data and rapidly translate speech.
Facebook Inc (FB.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and other big technology companies also are vying to provide artificial intelligence, including through virtual voice assistants, to help users manage photos, emails, schedules and more. Keeping users in their apps would help the companies maintain their booming businesses of selling ads, goods or online computing services.
Editing by Peter Henderson and Richard Chang