September 30th, 2020
Sometimes, a phone call is the best way to get something done. We call retailers to locate missing packages, utilities to adjust our internet speeds, airlines to change our travel itineraries…the list goes on. But more often than not, we need to wait on hold during these calls—listening closely to hold music and repetitive messages—before we reach a customer support representative who can help. In fact, people in the United States spent over 10 million hours on hold with businesses last week.
Save time with Hold for Me
Hold for Me, our latest Phone app feature, helps you get that time back, starting with an early preview on Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) in the U.S. Now when you call a toll-free number and a business puts you on hold, Google Assistant can wait on the line for you. You can go back to your day, and Google Assistant will notify you with sound, vibration, and a prompt on your screen once 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.
Hold for Me is our latest effort to make phone calls better and save you time. Last year, we introduced an update to Call Screen that helps you avoid interruptions from spam calls once and for all, and last month, we launched Verified Calls to help you know why business is calling before you answer. Hold for Me is now another way we’re making it simpler to say hello.
Powered by Google AI
Every business’s hold loop is different and simple algorithms can’t accurately detect when a customer support representative comes onto the call. Hold for Me is powered by Google’s Duplex technology, which not only recognizes hold music but also understands the difference between a recorded message (like “Hello, thank you for waiting”) and a representative on the line. Once a representative is identified, Google Assistant will notify you that someone’s ready to talk and ask the representative to hold for a moment while you return to the call. We gathered feedback from a number of companies, including Dell and United, as well as from studies with customer support representatives, to help us design these interactions and make the feature as helpful as possible to the people on both sides of the call.
While Google Assistant waits on hold for you, Google’s natural language understanding also keeps you informed. 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.
Keeping your data safe
Hold for Me is an optional feature you can enable in settings and choose to activate during each call to a toll-free number. To determine when a representative is on the line, audio is processed entirely on your device and does not require a Wi-Fi or data connection. This makes the experience fast and also protects your privacy—no audio from the call will be shared with Google or saved to your Google account unless you explicitly decide to share it and help improve the feature. When you return to the call after Google Assistant was on hold for you, audio stops being processed altogether.
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. Your feedback will help us bring the feature to more people over the coming months, so they too can say goodbye to hold music and say hello to more free time.