Bing may continue to trail behind Google, but Microsoft is nonetheless touting its search technology's progress during the final days of 2013.
"Over the past 12 months, we have shipped thousands of changes to the search experience which are directly based on how you use Bing," wrote the Bing team in a blog post. Thanking users for a "great year," the company described some of the features, many inspired by consumer engagement, that position Microsoft's search technology as an increasingly integral part of the Redmond, Wash.-based company's software, services and device ecosystem.
"From minor updates like downloadable homepage images to major changes like powering Smart Search in Windows 8.1 and voice search in Xbox One, none of this would have been possible without your engagement and feedback," stated Microsoft. Bing has even won over a die-hard rival.
During the Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, it was revealed that Bing would become Siri's default search engine in iOS 7, the latest version of the iPhone and iPad maker's mobile operating system.
Derrick Connell, Microsoft Bing vice president, said in a blog post that the company was "thrilled that all the great results people have come to know and love on Bing.com will now be available to Siri users on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch."
Connell added, "Making sure customers can have access to the power of Bing where and when they need it has been a big focus of the work we have done over the past few years, and we are excited to work with Apple to deliver it to Siri users this fall." Bing is also rumored to help power Microsoft's answer to Siri, which is named Cortana, after an AI character that features heavily in the company's popular Halo video game series.
To help illustrate Bing's big year, Microsoft released an infographic depicting some of the search platform's achievements during 2013.
The search engine is emerging as a video entertainment resource. Bing Video search doubled in 2013, compared with 2012, claimed Microsoft. Binge-watching the 800,000 films indexed by Bing would take 150 years. The company is also keeping its finger on the pulse of social media.
Microsoft claims that Bing indexes half a billion tweets on Twitter and more than 2 billion Facebook status updates each day. Bing's social sidebar is populated by content generated by activity that appears on users' Twitter and Facebook accounts. Microsoft playfully noted that Bing powers search on both Facebook and Yahoo, and also features on Amazon's Android-powered Kindle Fire tablets.
Highlighting Bing Maps' expansive survey of the Earth, Microsoft said that lining up just 5 percent of the pixels that make up its store of images is enough to make four round trips to Venus, "with trillions of pixels to spare."