Remember the almost comical incident more than three years ago when Amazon Echo speakers started ordering dollhouses because a TV anchor said so? Those things are long behind us and people have been less than enthusiastic about the prospect of making big orders without any visual confirmation from their phone at the very least. But for a certain class of users, that may be the only kind of interaction they may be able to make which is why Google is now testing an accessibility feature that would let some users confirm purchases by voice alone.
Of course, Google Assistant won’t simply order stuff and pay for it without your consent or knowledge. Users will at least have to input their payment details first, something that they can only do the regular way via the mobile app. For users with visual or physical disabilities, they’ll have to ask someone to do it for them.
It’s exactly for those kinds of users that Google is testing this feature. Some people wouldn’t be able to use a smartphone to confirm purchases and payments and Google Assistant is the perfect way for them to still keep up with the modern world. Of course, even perfectly able users might find the feature convenient especially since smart speakers don’t exactly have touch screens on them in the first place.
That said, there will be some reservations about the feature, especially considering how voice recognition still isn’t foolproof these days. That’s true even for features that are supposed to identify and distinguish individual voices to make sure kids don’t suddenly order and confirm payments using their parent’s accounts.
The feature is still in testing and may not even roll out to the public if the feedback and performance will be too negative. At the moment, it’s being limited to smart speakers and smart displays with Google Assistant and seems to only confirm in-app purchases and restaurant orders only.