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Hey Google, Hang Up!

Google just let me know that I can make calls to local business through the Google Home. This feature was announced awhile back and has been available as Alexa Calling for some time now.

Calling through the Echo or Home presents at least two issues:

  • Duplexing and voice codecs for far field are different than for conference calling. Yes, they’re the same family but they are different species. Something that sounds good might not necessarily be good for speech recognition algorithms and what’s good for speech recognition might not be good voice calls, which need to use different filters to allow for perceived clarity. The same is true for duplexing on the call, which might be too aggressive for voice first devices, over clipping speech. Beam forming might also be too directional, especially when there are multiple speakers.
  • Hang ups. “Alexa, end call” or “Hey Google, Hang Up” is going to be heard by the other end of the call. This also means that if you end up leaving a message, someone is either going to hear you say that or struggle endlessly to get the device to end the call.

The other weird interaction is with extension dialling. Some Redditors have mentioned that they’ve used tone generators to dial but this is asking too much of a user.

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