Google has shut down its ‘Duplex on the Web’ service after two years of it being introduced, with a renewed focus on the ‘Duplex voice’ technology. Initially, the feature was designed to help Android users buy movie tickets. Duplex on the Web gave Assistant the ability to navigate websites on its own. Provided you had your credit card information stored on Chrome, Assistant could take care of all of the busy work of buying film tickets for you. Google later expanded the feature to protect users against online data breaches. At one point, you could also use it to check into flights and track discounts.
Duplex on the Web joins a long list of services that Google has gradually killed or decommissioned. In 2021, for instance, Google did away with a host of services – Google Toolbar, which was a useful add-on to browsers and was fairly popular among Internet Explorer users. Google Play Movies & TV was replaced by Google TV. Measure, an impressive augmented reality measurement app, was also killed off in 2021.
The reason, why Google is shutting down Duplex on the Web, they suggests it may have something to do with the cost of training an AI to parse websites. The feature’s support page notes Google used a special user agent to crawl websites as much multiple times per day. What’s more, the performance of Duplex on the Web could suffer significantly if website administrators prevented the crawler from indexing their content.