Microsoft has launched a new “visual search” function for Bing, which lets users snap a picture of something with their phone to search for it online. The feature looks very similar to Google Lens and offerings we’ve seen from third parties that leverage the power of AI to perform quick and accurate object recognition on photos.
The new visual search is available in a range of apps, including the standalone Bing app on iOS and Android, Microsoft Launcher on Android, Microsoft Edge on Android, and coming soon to Edge on iOS. You can use it to search for things like breeds of dogs, famous landmarks, and even items of clothing. The app will try to identify what it sees and, in the case of consumer goods, find places to buy them online.
“Sometimes, it is almost impossible to describe what you want to search for using words,” said Microsoft’s product lead for Bing Images, Vince Leung, in a blog post.
Visual search is quickly becoming a commodity product for big tech companies like Google and Microsoft, but the feature can sometimes be a let-down in real-life usage. It’s bound to improve, though, as firms catalog more data and speed up their machine learning algorithms. Before we know it, the world around us will be as searchable as a URL.