Microsoft rolled out a number of intelligent search features for Bing at a press event recently held in San Francisco. Since it will be powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the search updates are expected to lead to enhanced utilization of object recognition, provide more detailed answers and allow for more general or conversational search queries.
The improved features will have Bing substantiating its answers by sourcing numerous websites, instead of just one. And in situations where there's more than one credible perspective, Bing will compile the answers and show both sides at the top of the search page. The search engine will also supply a conveyor of answers if there are several ways of answering a search query.
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Microsoft's team has also incorporated pertinent comparisons or analogies to search answers so that it will be easier to understand the supplied information. For instance, when searching for Syria's land area, Bing would not only give how many square miles the country is, it would also show that the area is estimated to be as big as Florida.
Jake Hofman, a senior researcher at Microsoft, explained that the team wanted to provide some context or perspective when it comes to reading numerical data. Most of the time, people who read numbers don't really understand them. By adding an analogy, the numbers are placed on familiar ground that's often connected to people's daily experience. What's more, Microsoft has also expanded Bing's comparison replies, which used to be limited to product comparisons.
Another new feature incorporated in Bing is its clarifying questions. These clarifiers are expected to help people searching for answers to conversational questions or broad topics by narrowing down and refining their search. Microsoft also rolled out advanced image search proficiency, which will allow users to search for objects or images within images. For example, the user can track down a specific accessory they are interested in buying that a model or celebrity is wearing.
Microsoft has also decided to have Bing and Reddit join forces. This means that information contained in Reddit's threads will now find its way to Bing's search page. Users will now be able to search Bing for particular Reddit topics or subreddits, like “Reddit Aww” and the search engine will provide a snippet of the conversation. General searches that could be answered via Reddit conversations will also be shown in Bing search results. Users who also want to view specific Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) or read the popular ones will find that Bing will also pull those up to the top of the results page. Upcoming AMAs will be featured as well.
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The partnership of Bing and Reddit is already in effect, along with Bing's improved image search. Meanwhile, the search engine's conversational search and intelligent answers features will slowly be rolled out by next month.
Microsoft also introduced new AI-enhanced features for both Cortana and Office 365 at the press event. Specifically, intelligent search will be incorporated into Office 365 products, including SharePoint and OneDrive. This will allow users to search for text within presentation and image slides. The new Office features will rollout before the month ends.