Microsoft today updated its Bing search engine to show more information via the Snapshot feature, which pulls together connections between people, places, and the “things you care about” based on its understanding of the real world. Today’s release encompasses doctors, dentists, lawyers, and individual real estate properties.
Bing already tracks billions of entities, as well as the billions of relationships between them, to show users relevant data while they search. Over the last few months, Microsoft has added an additional 150 million entities.
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The addition means that when you search for a medical professional, Bing now returns their Snapshot, which includes their specialty, experience, education, address, and phone number. If you search for a new home or are heading to a friend’s house for dinner, you can get detailed information about an address (as seen above).
Microsoft also takes the opportunity to make a jab at Google: “And unlike other search providers, we let you do something with that information. We strive to provide more insights about entities to our users.”
The company then offers two examples. If you search for Winston Churchill, you can play audio clips of his most famous speeches directly from the search results page, and if you search for Princeton University, you can see a list of online courses you can take.
It’s worth noting that neither of these examples is related to doctors, dentists, lawyers, nor individual real estate properties. Furthermore, these Snapshots still aren’t available for Bing users outside of the US.
Yet Microsoft says this is just the start. Here’s the company’s vision:
With advancements in Natural User Interface experiences such as gesture or voice, we believe that there’s a world just around the corner where Bing can be more helpful by proactively reminding you to pick up dinner on the way home, or helping you plan a vacation while keeping the weather, flight prices, and exchange rates all in mind.
If that sounds like Google Now, that’s because it pretty much is. Microsoft is building the foundation for its own offering to ensure Bing can keep up with search that doesn’t need you to enter a query first.
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