At an event in San Francisco, Microsoft announced a slew of improvements coming to Bing, including AI-powered features and Reddit integration.
What these updates aim to achieve is to yield better search results and offer an easy way to comb through thousands of subreddits.
First off, Microsoft is highlighting Intelligent Search, and according to the company, it allows users to interact with Bing more naturally and get comprehensive answers.
For starters, there's the feature called Intelligent Answers, and it's running with "state-of-the-art" machine reading. That means the search engine can parse text and glean meaning from various content.
As an example, Bing will now provide more than one reputable source to validate its answers so that users can have more confidence in their authenticity.
More than that, it will even offer different perspectives on certain topics in a neat manner. For instance, a search for "Is coffee good for you?" will yield a comparison between the benefits and negative effects of the subject. It's not limited to products either, as an inquiry for "Pilates vs Yoga" will yield a table that summarizes the factors that differentiate one subject from the other.
In event that there are multiple answers to a question, it'll yield a carousel of answers instead to give users all the info they need concerning the topic.
Microsoft is also throwing in a feature that makes search results more digestible by providing an analogy for them.
That way, when a user searches for "How big is Afghanistan?" they'll get not only the measurement of the country but also something that'll put things into perspective. In this case, Bing will inform the user that Afghanistan is 251,827 square miles and that it's about equal to the size of Texas.
"We want to reduce the number of times that people read a number and can't make sense of it. And we want to do that by providing some context, or an analogy, or perspective, that puts it in more familiar terms usually related to their everyday experience," Jake Hofman, a researcher at Microsoft's New York lab, said.
In addition, users can refine search results if they need help to zero in on certain answers, as Bing will now ask clarifying questions. There's also the advanced image search features that leverages object recognition, meaning that users can search images or within images. Microsoft's example of this is, if the user wants to search for a fashion item or home furniture in a picture, they can isolate it and get more information about it.
The search engine on Reddit isn't exactly the best out there, and Bing could be just the thing to solve the issue.
Now users can search for specific topics or subreddits, such as /r/AskReddit or /r/funny, and get a sneak peek of the top conversations and threads.
They can also search for general things affixed with the tag "reddit," and if there are relevant Reddit conversations, answers from various Reddit users will pop up in the form of a snippet.
Those who want to stay on top of the AMA (ask me anything) sessions of celebrities on Reddit can also use Bing to find out the schedules of upcoming ones or get links to those that are already over. All they have to do is search for a celebrity's name or "Reddit AMAs" to get a carousel of some of the most popular AMA sessions.
The Reddit integration is now live. Some of Bing's answers are available already too, while others will be available over the next week in the United States, which are set to expand to other markets in the foreseeable future.
It's also worth mentioning that Microsoft unveiled AI features for Cortana and Office 365 at the event as well.