Google might be the most popular search engine in the world, but Microsoft's Bing one-ups Google in the fun department: emojis.
Microsoft just rolled out support for searching with emojis on Bing, which means users who do not want to type an entire word into the search box can search using emojis instead.
Bing will recognize the small graphic image and will come up with semantic search results related to that emoji. For example, searching with a kissing face emoji brings up the Wikipedia page for "kiss" and a number of tutorial videos and articles on the art of kissing.
"With the explosion of mobile devices and the ubiquity of texting, it has become a shorthand language used by billions of us around the world," writes Nick Roberts, Microsoft's senior program manager for Bing relevance and intent. "At Bing, we want you to be able to search the same way you communicate every day."
Users can also search using a combination of emojis or a combination of emojis and text. For example, a search using the emoji for hot springs and an emoji of the Japanese flag brought up results for onsen, or public Japanese bathing facilities built around hot springs. On the other hand, searching with the emoji for coffee combined with the words "San Francisco" led to search results including Yelp reviews for San Francisco's best coffee shops, travel guides for San Francisco and a list articles for the best coffee in the city.
"Emoji search on Bing can be even more powerful than just finding out an emoji's meaning," says Roberts. "You can combine them to create more multi-word searches."
However, emoji search only works seamlessly on Bing mobile, since emojis are more often used in mobile than on desktop browsers. On Google Chrome, for instance, emojis show up as little thin rectangles that the browser cannot recognize, although Bing still recognizes their meanings and returns relevant results. Other browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer show these emojis just fine, though.
This isn't the first time Microsoft has gone ahead of Google in incorporating new ways to make search different. For instance, Microsoft also included support for Bitcoin conversion, while Google remains stuck with standard currency conversions.
However unique Bing's new features may be, though, the second biggest search engine still has an uphill climb ahead. Google owns a whopping 67.6 percent of the search market share, while Bing trails at a distant second with 18.7 percent. It may take more than emoji searches to win over Google's audience.