Microsoft just released a neat new feature called Bing visual search, which lets users take a picture with their smartphone and search for it online.
This should help users save both time and effort, as they'd be able to search for exactly what they want just by using a picture rather than using a bunch of keywords to search.
Microsoft Visual Search: What You Can Do With It
This new visual search feature could come in handy in a number of everyday scenarios. For instance, if you see a shirt you like and don't know where to find it, you could snap a photo of it and search the web to see where you can buy it. Or, if you see a flower you like, but don't know what it is, you could take a picture and look for it online to see what it's called, and maybe even where to buy seeds.
"Sometimes, it is almost impossible to describe what you want to search for using words," says Vince Leung, product lead for Bing Images at Microsoft.
It's basically Microsoft's answer to Google Lens, and it plans to be just as readily available. Google Lens is available via the Google Photos app to all Android users, but Microsoft will roll it out through its existing apps.
Bing Visual Search Rollout
The new visual search is now part of Microsoft's Bing app for both Android and iOS in the United States, as well as the Edge app and Microsoft Launcher for Android. In the future, Microsoft will also roll it out to the Edge app for iOS and to Bing.com.
While it can prove to be useful in a number of scenarios, Microsoft hopes that people will rely on visual search as a shopping aid to look for various fashion and home items.
How It Works
The whole process is pretty simple and straightforward. See something you like, snap a picture of it with your smartphone's camera, then upload it to Bing from the camera roll.
Bing will then use its visual search smarts to identify the item and return various information, links, and suggestions for similar items, as well as where to buy them.
This marks a step forward for Microsoft and Bing, but it's still not on par with Google Lens. Rather than having users take a picture of what they want to search for, Google Lens uses a mix of search and augmented reality that uses the camera rather than the camera roll.
Nevertheless, Microsoft notes that the algorithms constantly learn and their performance improves over time as they get more data, so visual search will get even better.