Google Drops Automated Form-Filler

John Lister's picture

Google has ditched a feature that could automatically navigate websites and complete forms. The biggest problems with "Duplex on the Web" were that hardly anyone knew about it or needed it.

The feature launched in 2019 and was all about automating common sequences of actions on a website. The idea was to remove the need for the user to repeatedly click "next" buttons and confirm choices.

Among the examples Google gave were ordering food on a restaurant site, buying tickets on a movie theatre website, and checking out of an online store.

Google Assistant Control

The feature worked with the Google Assistant, which powers voice controlled services on Android phones and smart speakers and screens. Techcrunch cites an example of a user saying "Book me a car from Hertz" and the tool automatically completing the online forms with the user's details, figuring out the trip dates and locations from flight confirmation messages in a Gmail account. (Source:

The main problem was that it only worked with a limited number of services, largely because website owners had to actively enable the service by changing settings for Google web searches. Even then, Google had to approach the website in question to ask if it wanted to take part and kick off the process.

Who Knew It Was Possible?

Arstechnica also notes that the feature fell victim to a common limitation with tools like Google Assistant: there's no point technology being able to answer a particular question or carry out particular actions unless users either know or guess to ask for it. Most people probably wouldn't have known or guessed that they could, for example, book a car with a voice command. (Source:

It's also unclear whether this really solved any major problems. As writer Ron Amadeo explains, most websites that offer some form of ordering or checkout tool inherently try to make it as straightforward and painless as possible anyway.

The move doesn't spell an end to the wider "Google Duplex" program, which is designed to use AI to make life simpler. Google is continuing to work on a tool that can make phone calls on your behalf, using a simulated voice and programmed information to carry out simple tasks such as asking a restaurant for a reservation.

What's Your Opinion?

Had you ever heard of Duplex on the Web? Would you have used it if you knew about it? Do tech firms concentrate too much on what technology can do rather than what problems it can solve?

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bloomdds_14318's picture

Yes, I think they're failing to focus on solving problems vs brainstorming on far-out things that can be done. As far as enabling a tool that can make phone calls and use a simulated voice, that sure sounds like a robo-caller's dream tool. What the heck?