Hold please: Google takes the pain out of waiting

Google Assistant can now do the waiting when you’re on hold. © Courtesy of Google.

MOUNTAIN VIEW: Google has unveiled a new function for its Phone app aimed at saving users from endless minutes of hold music when calling busy services such as administrations or customer service helplines.

It allows users to get on with other things before being notified when someone finally picks up.

This handy tool is currently only available in the US and on the firm’s new Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a handsets.

Google explains that when a user calls a toll-free number and is put on hold, Google Assistant can take over and do the waiting on behalf of the caller. When someone finally picks up, the caller is notified by a sound, a vibration and an on-screen notification.

The service relies on Google Assistant’s ability to effectively distinguish between a recorded message (or hold music) and the natural voice of a human being picking up the call.

This isn’t the first time that Google Assistant has been put to use to make Android users’ lives easier when making calls. Google has previously demonstrated autonomously-made calls on behalf of the user, to book a restaurant table or an appointment at the hair salon.

The news comes a few weeks after Google previewed a potential solution to another problem, spam calls.

In the future, the Phone app on Android should be able to display “badges” under incoming phone numbers – like the verified accounts on certain social media platforms – to prove that it isn’t a fraudulent number.