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Google Assistant helps users to book cinema tickets

Image credit: Dmytro Zinkevych - Dreamstime

Google Assistant can now help UK users find and book cinema tickets using only voice commands for the first time, the search giant has announced.

The firm’s virtual assistant has been added to the Chrome web browser on Android smartphones and can now guide users through tasks with only minimal contact with their device required.

The feature uses Google’s Duplex technology – first unveiled in 2018 – which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to go beyond just answering queries and automatically completes tasks such as booking appointments.

Google said UK users will now be able to prompt the Assistant by saying things such as “Hey Google, show times for (film title) in Manchester this weekend” and will then be guided through the process of finding and buying tickets.

The tech giant added that the technology will be able to automatically input information such as payment details if a user has previously chosen to save it in Chrome.

The feature has been steadily rolling out in parts of the USA over the past year, with the feature only working with a limited number of cinemas in the US and UK.

In the US, the Assistant can book tickets on more than 70 cinemas and ticketing services, including Fandango, MovieTickets.com, AMC and MJR Theatres. For those in the UK, the Assistant will only be able to book tickets on Odeon.

The Duplex technology attracted controversy upon its initial unveiling in 2018 after it was demonstrated making a phone call to a real business on behalf of a user – sparking alarm among some because it appeared to pretend to be a human.

Google later clarified the voice software would always disclose what it was when making calls and has since been introduced to a number of web-based scenarios, including buying cinema tickets or booking a table in a restaurant.

The technology giant plans to make it easier for users to get things done with the Assistant on the Web from your phone in the future. It also said the feature will be expanded to more complex tasks such as booking a car rental.

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