The business potential of Google's new voice capabilities

Google is also tweaking its own algorithms to help surface authoritative sources in moments when news is breaking to prevent the spread of conspiracy theories - though it should be noted that without tackling YouTube, where many conspiracy theories spread, the initiative can only be a half-measure.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the company is working hard to make sure it gets Duplex right before it launches, so it'll be quite a while before the feature debuts in full.

To be fair, this has a lot to do with the sort of services I can afford and choose to use, as well as with the fact that India is charting its own path in going digital - but it's clear that the tech needed to make phone calls redundant for booking and scheduling is easily available, and it's likely only a matter of time before all those small businesses in the United States get online.

In two demonstrations, one setting up a hair appointment and another a restaurant reservation, a realistic-sounding automated voice used pauses and "ums" and "mmm-hmms" to sound more human during interactions with people. Support for multiple commands - dubbed Multiple Actions by Google - is also rolling out and will allow users to ask their assistant to, for example, turn on the bedroom lights and turn off the TV with a single phrase. "Is Google going to hand over credit card details?"

"It's important to us that users and businesses have a good experience with this service, and transparency is a key part of that", Google engineers Yaniv Leviathan and Yossi Matias, who helped design the new technology, wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

"Also, the call took all of a minute or less, but didn't include the time it took to find somewhere to eat, tell Google what you wanted it to do and have it give you the response after it finished".

Big tech is facing unprecedented scrutiny for the addictive nature of apps and devices, mass accumulation of personal data, skyrocketing wealth from digital advertising and growing societal repercussions, such as job loss, from advances in artificial intelligence. A new utility dashboard will show you "how you're spending time on your device, including time spent in apps, how many times you've unlocked your phone, and how many notifications you've received". Thanks to a digital assistant. If you're not, then stay with it or get out: the choice is yours. To do this, Google News will now have AI analyze news and information in real-time and organize it into "storylines".

When a user wants to see what stories the world is reading, he or she can switch over to Google Headlines to see general news, sports and features from around the world.

Newscasts is another new feature that offers a preview of a story as it appears in a newspaper column, so that users can scan it more thoroughly than a headline and sentence or two below it.

What do you think about the new features being added to Google Assistant?

"This is by far the most powerful feature of the app", Upstill said, "and provides a whole new way to dig into the news". See the Walmart site for more information.

Google I/O continues through May 10.