Microsoft announced that it has opened up its Bing search engine as a development platform and has delivered a new Bing Developer Center to enable developers to access Bing services for use in building more aware applications.
During a keynote at Build 2013, Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Online Services Division, outlined how Bing has created a platform that enables the technologies behind Bing.com to be embedded as intelligent services into Microsoft devices such as Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox, as well as Microsoft services such as Office and Skype, along with third-party apps. Bing as a Platform will allow devices and services to help people interact with the world’s knowledge and their surroundings in a more human way, Microsoft said.
“Our new streamlined Bing Developer Center puts all the content you need in one single location, with links to documentation, downloads, sample code, how-to’s, as well as links to partner blogs where you can find even more technical content,” Microsoft’s Bing Developer Team said in a blog post.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, during his keynote at Build, said Microsoft has put a tremendous amount of effort into making Bing a solid platform that now actually competes for users with Google. “We win blind taste tests between Bing and Google,” he said. “We use Bing to improve the fundamental usability of Windows. And we’re opening up Bing as an application development platform.”
The new platform will deliver three broad categories of capabilities of which third-party applications can take advantage: services to bring entities and the world’s knowledge to applications, services to enable applications to deliver more natural and intuitive user experiences, and services that bring an awareness of the physical world into developers’ applications. Highlights of the developer services include the Bing Entity API, Bing Optical Character Recognition Control, Bing Translator Control, Bing Speech Control and Bing Maps 2D/3D Control.
“Today we’re announcing a profound expansion of our approach to search by creating a platform that unites the intelligent services that power Bing.com and by making these capabilities available to third-party developers via new APIs and controls,” Pall said in a blog post.
Pall said the Bing Entity API allows developers to create applications using this understanding to build scenarios that augment users’ abilities to discover and interact with their world faster and more easily than they can do today. The Bing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Control enables developers to integrate Microsoft’s robust, cloud-based visual recognition capabilities into their applications. The Bing Translator Control lets apps detect text and delivers automatic machine translation into a specified language so your users can stay informed wherever they are and whatever language they speak. The Bing Speech Control for Windows 8.1 allows developers to let users interact with their apps using simply their voice. In addition, the Bing Text-to-Speech API for Windows 8.1 gives devices and applications a voice by allowing them to speak out loud to make user interactions more natural and intuitive, Pall added.
Build 2013: Microsoft Intros New Bing Developer Center, Services
Meanwhile, the Bing Maps SDK for Windows 8.1 provides mapping, routing and traffic capabilities for Windows Store applications in Windows 8.1. And Pall also said the preview of the Bing Maps 3D SDK for Windows 8.1 will deliver photo-realistic and smooth mapping experiences that let developers build apps that put the user in the center of the action.
“Basically, I think an API that allows developers to participate in search requests is a key to designing modern services, especially as consumers shift to voice interaction,” said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with Forrester Research. “They will place a request and expect it to be fulfilled, or expect the system to anticipate what they want. I was expecting Google to do something like this for Google Now at Google I/O, but they didn’t. I think Microsoft just fired a shot across their bow, and could take the lead in driving adaptive applications in the process.”
Microsoft said the design of Bing enables the company to move with agility on the platform.
“The Bing platform builds upon the enormous investments we have made in core search technologies that enable devices and services to let users interact with the world’s knowledge and their surroundings in more human ways,” Pall said. “These technologies, when integrated into devices and apps, create an ‘intelligent fabric.’ We’ve woven together Bing’s massive worldwide indexing technology infrastructure with third-party applications and data combined with intelligent services derived from years of work from MS Research and the Bing teams to enable the next-generation of app experiences. For us, the future of search is not about more search boxes–it’s about building a platform to enable applications and devices to empower people with knowledge and help them do more-not just search more.”
Meanwhile, Bing introduced two new Bing Apps for Windows 8.1 Preview: the Food & Drink app and the Health & Fitness app. Designed from the ground up for Windows 8.1 to embrace speed and touch, the apps give people a consistent way to delve into culinary and health interests and get things done. Additionally, the Bing Maps app has been updated with a range of new features like improved local search, personalized recommendations and improved integration with other Windows apps and partners such as Facebook and OpenTable.