Microsoft has announced a major upgrade to its Bing Chatbot, which adds restaurant bookings, image and video responses, chat history and some smarter Microsoft Edge Integration. Microsoft has also made Bing Chat public, allowing anyone to use it.
The biggest update is the new Actions feature for Bing Chat and Edge. Microsoft’s Bing AI will allow you to perform tasks without switching between websites. If a search results recommends a particular restaurant, Bing AI can find a time that is convenient for you to book the reservation and do so in chat.
It also works with Edge. If you search for movies, Bing AI will open the website and select the appropriate service for you. Microsoft hasn’t revealed all of the partners it is working with, but it has shown OpenTable to book restaurants and Apple TV to search for movies.
The next step is to display image and video results directly in Bing Chat. Microsoft’s consumer marketing head Yusuf Mehdi says, “We are introducing richer and more visual answers with charts and graphs, and updated formatting to help you find the information that you’re looking for more easily.” Soon, you’ll be able search for images or videos in Bing chat and request them of animals, objects, places and more. Microsoft has also expanded its Bing Image Creator into more than 100 different languages so that you can create images using Bing Chat.
Microsoft has also added a feature that was highly requested to Bing Chat – history. This new chat history allows you to access chatbot conversations on multiple devices, and use Bing Chat for research. Microsoft also plans to add exporting and sharing features into Bing Chat, so that you can share contents of a discussion on Twitter or bring it into Word documents.
Microsoft Edge is where chat history becomes really interesting. Edge will move the chat from a Bing Chat response into a sidebar if you click on it. This allows you to continue asking questions as you browse. Microsoft has also been experimenting with personalizing chat sessions, incorporating context from past chat histories into new conversations.
Edge Mobile will soon support page context, so that you can ask Bing Chat questions about the page on which you are currently located, just like in the desktop version’s sidebar.
Microsoft will also open up Bing Chat with plug-ins to third parties. Microsoft has not specified when the plug-ins will be available. However, Microsoft is working with OpenTable to develop its Bing Actions reservations, Wolfram Alpha to create visualizations and OpenAI for developers to plug into Bing Chat.
Mehdi says, “We think this is a game changer in reinvention of the search engine and in advancing opportunities for developers to work in search.” We look forward to sharing additional details at Microsoft Build, later this month.
Microsoft announced all of its new Bing features just a week prior to Google’s annual I/O conference. Google released its Bard chatbot as early access late in March, and added support for code and functions last month. Google is scrambling in response to Bing and ChatGPT. We’re expecting to learn more about Google AI efforts for search by next week.