Google’s Duplex phone call handling is clever, but the company may have just addressed an even greater issue: having to endure hold music while you wait for customer service. Alongside the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G, Google has revealed a Hold for Me preview in Assistant that waits on the line until there’s an answer.
The feature uses Duplex and Call Screen tech to let you ignore the usual hold music and “your call is important to us” messages until there’s a person on the other end. You can see a transcript of any spoken content. When a human picks up, you’ll get an alert that they’re waiting to talk to you with a button to return to the call.
You can’t listen to music or other audio while you’re on hold. Hold for Me works entirely on the device, though so you don’t have to worry about transmitting info.
Google is only making Hold for Me available to a handful of users at first. You’ll need a Pixel 5 or 4a 5G in the US, and it will only support English calls to toll-free numbers. It won’t be an option for many local businesses. Older Pixel phones will get the option through a feature drop.
It’s a helpful feature if you dread spending half an hour on hold with a bank or tech support. At the same time, Google is also clearly flexing its muscle. Between this and the new Google Photos editor, the company wants to show that its AI is capable of solving common problems that other phones can’t.