Google’s Duplex feature on Android phones can be a lifesaver if you just don’t have time to call and set up a reservation for yourself. A similar feature coming to select Android phones could be a real lifesaver, though. Automated 911 calls will soon be able to contact emergency services and relay your exact location without you saying a word.
While the new emergency calling feature is similar to Duplex, you don’t initiate it the same way. Duplex is built into Assistant, so you just ask it to call someplace and that all happens in the background. The automated call for help is part of the Google Phone app. After calling emergency services, the phone will show three buttons for medical, police, and fire. Tapping any of them will start the robot voice.
The unfailingly calm robot lady will tell the 911 operator that it’s a robot calling on your behalf before giving your location and the reason for your call (medical, fire, or police). Importantly, your Android device is speaking to the emergency operator, not a Google server as in the case of Duplex. So, all the information relayed to the operator stays between you and emergency services. You can see the script on the screen as it’s read, and the call remains open the entire time. So, you can speak to the operator as well, should you be able to do so.
Google says this feature could be invaluable in situations where someone cannot speak to emergency operators because they’re injured or under duress. Many emergency call centers get GPS information from phone calls automatically, but the address in the message can help confirm and get help to you faster.
The bad news is that most Android users won’t have this feature. It’s coming to Pixel phones, of course. Google has full control over the software on those phones, and the automated emergency calls are part of the Google Phone app. It also says that select other phones will get the feature, but doesn’t list them. Many device makers like Samsung, LG, and OnePlus create their own phone apps separate from Google’s. Presumably, devices in the Android One program and Motorola’s almost stock phones could get this feature in the future.