2013 was the year that Bing broke out of the search box.
Over the past year, we worked deeply with teams across Microsoft to bring the capabilities of Bing to a host of products. Across Xbox, Windows Phone, Office and Windows 8, we’ve begun a journey to make it easier to find the stuff you are looking for and take action on your favorite Microsoft services and devices. Because it’s not enough to just enhance our own products, we also brought our experiences to other platforms including tailored apps for iOS and Android as well as empowering developers with access to the big data horsepower of Bing’s back-end. To do this, we thought deeply about new interaction models and the current state of the technology landscape.
As we’re all well aware, people are using multiple devices and a galaxy of specialized applications to do things they used to do in the “real” world. From getting driving directions to buying movie tickets, we expect to be able to do things using these devices and applications, not just find information. For Bing, it was time to break out of the search box.
Let’s take a look at where we have been this year.
Smart Search on Windows 8.1
Modern search needs to be complete and help you find what you’re looking for, whether it’s on your PC, in your top apps, or on the web. With Smart Search for Windows 8.1we shipped a brand new search experience built for touch, allowing you to find your own personal stuff as well as content from the open web and the creativity of the millions of authors and developers.
Your search experience should be beautiful so we brought the best of Bing into the Windows search experience to create something that’s not only useful and well-organized but also highly visual. You’ll see rich images across all your search results that help you find what you’re looking for faster and help bring order to the vast information on the web.
Voice Search on Xbox One
How do you search without a keyboard while sitting in your living room? With your voice, of course. With Xbox One, the power of Bing and Kinect are making it fast, easy and natural to find, play, watch, and listen to whatever you want. Over the past year, we’ve focused on overcoming limitations of previous voice experiences. To achieve speed and accuracy improvements, we focused on an advanced approach called Deep Neural Networks(DNNs). DNN is a technology that is inspired by the functioning of neurons in the human brain. In a similar way, DNN technology can detect patterns akin to the way biological systems recognize patterns allowing us to better understand natural language. With Xbox One, you can search using natural phrases.
Bing & Office
In January we released Bing Apps for Office, which are free Bing-powered apps that can be used with the Office 365 Home Premium. With these apps we introduced news ways for you to be more productive without having to leave the applications.
- Bing Maps for Office allows you to plot location data on a Bing Map. It’s a data visualization tool for Excel that lets you use location names and map controls so you can zoom in and out of the map using touch or your mouse. You can adjust the map view to road or birds eye. Imagine overlaying census data on a state map.
- Bing Finance for Office helps you take control of your finances by letting you build a finance portfolio table in Excel. You can input stock symbols and customize the fields you’d like to display by selecting from a wide range of data columns, including current price and news.
- Bing News Search for Office lets you search for news and related videos from within a Word document. You can insert the results with a simple click.
- Bing Dictionary (English) for Office continuously discovers and distills high quality language knowledge so you have the latest definitions and spellings available. Aren’t sure of how to spell something? Simply enter words as they sound and Bing can suggest letters, words or phrases, optionally specified by part-of-speech.
- Bing Image Search for Office allows you to search for images on the web from within your Word document. You can search for images by selecting text in the document or typing in the search box. Results are displayed in a grid and when you click on a result, a larger preview is displayed at the bottom with additional details and options. Any result can be inserted into the document at the location of your cursor by clicking on the insert plus icon.
We shipped the public preview of Power Map, a project codenamed “Geoflow,” for Excel. Power Map is a 3D visualization tool that helps users map, explore and interact with both geographic and chronological data, enabling discoveries that could be difficult to identify with traditional 2D tables and charts. Core to the experience are familiar but powerful mapping capabilities that allow users to plot up to a million rows of geographical data from Excel in 3D.
Bing for Windows Phone
With mobile, context and location are everything. Bing Local Scout provides local search results and recommends nearby restaurants, shopping and other activities in an easy to use guide powered by Bing. Whether you’re looking for the best brunch or live music in your area, it’s all a tap away. Simply pick a result and you’ll see everything you need to know —where it’s located, how to get there, who to call, when it’s open, the website, and even ratings and reviews. This year we completely streamlinedthe experience for Windows Phone 8 to better surface answers like current weather or flight status updates. Now whether you’re searching for a celebrity, co-worker, animal, geographic location, or man-made structure, Bing helps you better understand the world around you by providing at-a-glance answers and related info based on what people are searching for.
Bing for Developers
It’s probably clear by now that, at Bing, we’re excited to use our technology to make so our products better, but we’re equally excited to unleash our knowledge and understanding to developers. To that end, in June, we introduced the Bing Developer Center, which lets third party developers access our Optical Character Recognition, translation, search, maps, and voice control technology.
Bing as a platform will continue to grow in 2014. Expect the team to keep rolling out new tools for developers, new integrations of Bing across the Microsoft ecosystem and beyond, and helping people to get more done with technology in new ways.
– The Bing Team