Bing searches without leaving other apps, beats Google Now On Tap to Android

Bing’s updated Android app intelligently reads the screen of any open app, overlaying a snapshot with related info and actions. And it’s activated by Bing taking over the home button long-press from Google, just as Cortana for Android beta can do.

It’s an aggressive move into Google’s territory, and one that beats Google to market. Google Now on Tap, a similar feature, was announced in May and is planned for Marshmallow.

Here's how it works: Let’s say you’re reading about a movie in Chrome for Android. If you long-press the home button, Bing might show a Wikipedia excerpt and link, movie showtimes with a link to buy tickets, and an IMDb deep app link. It also launches if you drag in a hovering half-circle that peeks in from the right side of the screen.

Here’s how Bing pitches the new Android app to consumers:

Bing also believes this has benefit for developers who probably want users to stay engaged inside their app, rather than hand off to Google. So Bing is releasing a “knowledge and action” API which connects developers to the billions of knowledge and contextual connections Bing has accumulated.

The video above says that Bing offers “over 1 billion snapshots of people, places and things on tap, without ever leaving your favorite apps.” And that also seems to be Bing's pitch to developers: Don't let Google disengage your users by taking them out of your app to search manually; instead, have Bing pop-up a snapshot of relevant information that either Bing intelligently decides, or that you prescribe using Bing's new API. Here's what the Bing team says:

Developers can innovate using this enormous asset to fulfill their users’ information needs and help users perform searches in context, instead of forcing users to leave their apps to perform searches... A social media app could augment users’ photos with information about the locations of each photo. A news app could show definitions and descriptions of terms that users want to drill into... we want to empower the developer community to create rich, innovative experiences that delight.

In our testing on a LG G4 it definitely feels like version 1. For example, while looking at a news story about politicians in the Google News app, Bing appropriately pops up the names of the candidates in the article with Wikipedia clips. But it also included information about Jurassic World and Van Halen.

With its latest update, Bing for Android digs deep into Google’s operating system—and beats them to market. By opening a new front on the Android battlefield, Microsoft is aggressively extending its services strategy outside of Windows, emphasizing Satya Nadella’s “mobile-first and cloud-first” mantra. And with Cortana for Android beta already out, Android users who prefer Microsoft services have even more choices.

Source: Bing Blog

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