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It takes a certain type of person to wait patiently on hold, listening to the same repetitive messages and piped music for 45 minutes before speaking to an actual human. But most of us are not that type of person, which is why Google this week introduced Hold for Me, a new phone app feature that helps users reclaim their time and mental health.
Starting with the just-announced Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, U.S. customers who call a toll-free number and are put on hold can simply tag Google Assistant to take their place in the queue. Go about your day as normal; the AI-powered aide will notify you with a sound, vibration, and on-screen prompt as soon as someone is on the line and ready to talk.
“That means you’ll spend more time doing what’s important to you, and less time listening to hold music,” Google product managers Andrew Goodman and Joseph Cherukara wrote in a blog post.
The company’s “latest effort to make phone calls better and save you time,” Hold for Me runs Google’s Duplex technology, which recognizes hold music and understands the difference between a recorded message and a real-life representative. It can even ask the person to hold briefly while you return.
“While Google Assistant waits on hold for you, Google’s natural language understanding also keeps you informed,” the blog said. “Your call will be muted to let you focus on something else, but at any time, you can check real-time captions on your screen to know what’s happening on the call.”
Audio is processed entirely on your device, and does not require a WiFi or data connection. No audio from the call is shared with Google or saved to your account (unless explicitly specified); in fact, it stops being processed entirely once you pick up again.
“We’re excited to bring an early preview of Hold for Me to our latest Pixel devices and continue making the experience better over time,” according to Cherukara and Goodman. The feature, expected to roll out to more users “over the coming months,” can be enabled via the phone’s Settings.
This article originally published at PCMag