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Bing launches 'snapshots on tap' before Google Now on Tap can launch

Microsoft isn't being subtle about where inspiration for Bing's newest feature came from. In an update to Bing's Android app today, Microsoft has launched a feature that it describes as "snapshots on tap," which functions pretty much exactly like Google Now on Tap will work when it launches with Android Marshmallow this fall. Bing's snapshots can be set up to replace Android's Google Now shortcut, so that swiping up on the home button will immediately activate it. Once active, Bing will scan whatever is currently on your screen for information and then display snippets of relevant results. If you pull up an article on Ashley Madison, for instance, Bing will return a snippet from the site's Wikipedia page.

In a brief test, Bing's snapshots seemed to work well on very focused websites and articles, but they had a bit of trouble on any screen that was discussing multiple subjects. Bing frequently just returns an empty search box because it isn't sure what you want from it; when it does return results, they're usually Wikipedia links, but it also includes the option to look things up in relevant apps. That's still a pretty neat trick — it's great to be able to quickly look something up without leaving the current page — but Google certainly has plenty of room left to win people over with Now on Tap. If you can't wait, Bing is worth trying out; of course, the battle should get a lot more interesting once Cortana for Android launches.