At its Build developer conference today, Microsoft announced that it is opening up quite a bit of Bing‘s advanced functionality to developers. As Microsoft corporate VP Gurdeep Singh Pall noted, developers are already using Bing APIs, of course, but apps can now use Bing’s entities and knowledge, natural user interfaces, optical character recognition and new mapping and visualization capabilities, including Microsoft’s just-announced 3-D imagery for maps.
As Singh Pall noted, Microsoft has been using all of these capabilities privately already, of course, but he thinks that “if we can do something with an API that is good, third parties can do something that is dynamite.”
Bing, he said, “is not just a great search engine, but the team has built some great capabilities.” Bing, after all, is pretty good at understanding user intent, unstructured content on the web and other queries and data types that are not trivial for a developer to implement.
The team, he said, always believed that Bing could do a lot of things that can “actually be very valuable outside of the search box. For a long time, we’ve now thought that you could use these capabilities to create some great experiences.”
Developers will get access to much of Bing’s data, including its web index and relevance engine, as well as its knowledge base and understanding of entities. The Bing team has also worked on lots of natural user interface technologies, including voice recognition, which will also be available for developers to add to their apps.
Here is a full list of the new capabilities for developers:
Bringing the World’s Knowledge to Your Apps
- Understanding the World: We think knowledge is more than just a “graph”. It requires combining the web’s deep sets of information with insights derived from understanding the people, places, things, and actions in the real world. 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.
Natural and Intuitive User Experiences
- The Gift of Sight: Giving machines the ability to see and understand is a long-held science fiction dream. TheBing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Control enables developers to integrate Microsoft’s robust cloud-based visual recognition capabilities into their applications.
- Write Once, Read Anywhere: The world is shrinking and information is increasingly more global. 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 Power of Voice: Being able to naturally converse with your device to do something is a top user request. 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.
Awareness of the Physical World
- View from the Top: So much of what we do in our lives depends on where we are and what is around us. TheBing Maps SDK for Windows 8.1 provides mapping, routing, and traffic capabilities for Windows Store applications in Windows 8.1.
- Immersive Geospatial Experiences: Sometimes you need more than directions. The preview of the Bing Maps 3D SDK for Windows 8.1 will deliver photorealistic and smooth mapping experiences that let developers build apps that put the user in the center of the action.