Last year, Google said it was "piloting" a program to allow the Assistant's Duplex feature to handle shopping, and now a public test of that feature has been spotted. It isn't live for us in our own testing, but some folks are seeing a new "fast checkout" Assistant prompt for a specific and convoluted workflow when purchasing content from Hot Topic online, which automatically fills payment and address fields during the checkout process.
If you're unfamiliar with the concept of Duplex handling all these things, that's understandable; it's all changed so fast. What started out as an Assistant-based feature that saved folks from making calls for appointments has expanded drastically across the web to encompass basically any way you can avoid entering information for something yourself. After all, if you've got an address, contact info, and payment details stored with Google, why on earth would you need to enter all that stuff all over again for third-party retailers when you're doing it from a Google platform or service?
As a result, Duplex is slowly expanded to cover all the things the magic of machine learning and structured data can make possible. Now it covers appointments, movie tickets, ordering food, waiting on hold for you, and all sorts of things. (It still can't blog, though — yet.)
Though it didn't work for us in our own testing, 9to5Google spotted a very complicated process that can trigger the feature via a Hot Topic purchase via a search performed in the Google app.
All images via 9to5Google.
During checkout, a new Assistant panel slides up with a big, attractive-looking "fast checkout" button that begs to be pushed, saying, "Hi, I can help you quickly checkout." The three-dot overflow menu has an option to disable these prompts, or you can tap "skip," but give in to consumer temptation, and you're prompted to agree to Google's terms, after which it's smooth sailing.
The Assistant will confirm your contact details, payment information, and shipping address before entering those details for you, apparently line-by-line, as you observe the fields filled in. However, the final checkout confirmation apparently errors out at this time.
We knew that a feature like this was coming, but the details weren't revealed at Google's announcement earlier this year. The particulars may yet change before the company actually announces things for a wider rollout, and the "pilot program" it said it was running for the feature is probably an invitation-only affair for now. Based on the convoluted method required to trigger it right now, Google may not have intentionally rolled this test out at all.