Back at I/O, Google announced a major expansion to its Assistant-based concierge automation engine, Duplex. Up until then, it would help people book restaurant tables and haircut appointments on the phone — it would soon be able to guide them through web orders and, in doing so, speeding up the entire process. We weren't told when we'd expect to see Duplex applied to the web, but the company has confirmed that its overall efforts are rolling out to movie ticket booking sites as Google Assistant in Chrome.
Here, we see how the process goes along from when you look up show times. After you choose one, you'll be able to select your booking site — if the option features a Google Assistant prompt to "Buy tickets," you can tap on the button. Otherwise, tapping elsewhere on the listing brings you to the website and you'll be able to fill out whatever you need on your own.
The Duplex option also brings you to the website, but generates a persistent Assistant tab on top of it. You will be asked through the tab to purchase however many tickets they need, but will need to interact with the site itself when selecting seats. You'll then pay through Assistant. Most form fields are automatically filled out along the way with the personal information you've saved with Google.
We were able to use this process for chains and sites owned by AMC and Fandango. Duplex on the web is touted as a "live" service, meaning it provides prompts in reaction to what it detects on the page. For example, AMC asked us to a select a seat first before asking us to select a ticket type (adult, senior, etc.) whereas Fandango inverted those steps. The Assistant was able to address both processes in the correct order.
A tipster who told us of the same behavior via AMC's UK chain, Odeon, pointed out an in-app notification from Google Chrome saying that "Google Assistant in Chrome" was stopping.
When requested for comment, a spokesperson for Google told us:
As previewed at Google I/O, we started experimenting with bringing the Google Assistant in Chrome to help users book movie tickets. We’ll use this opportunity to get feedback from users and improve the feature.
As with the automated phone calls, Duplex is able to give the more visible Google Assistant brand more capability in handling tasks that require loads of rote human interaction — in this case, filling out form fields for your name, birthdate, and address on the web. Oh, and not just any browser, mind you. The whole "Assistant" role Google is trying to encapsulate will be working on Google Chrome.
As to whether it'll work out, well, that's for all of us testers to find out, ask questions about, and decide.