Microsoft continues to push its Bing AI chatbot into ever more parts of its software empire.
The latest integrations announced today include offering access to the chatbot in the company’s SwiftKey keyboard app (which was previously only available on Android in beta but is now available generally including iOS); greater access to the bot in group chats on Skype (the Skype integration launched in February in preview, but group chats now only need one member with access to talk to Bing); and a new integration with Microsoft’s little-known Start app, which is a sort of personalized news feed / search engine / weather app combo.
The most interesting integration is definitely SwiftKey, where the bot has three functions: Search, Chat, and Tone. The first two are self-explanatory: you can search the web from SwiftKey and chat with Bing if you have questions. But the third function is the most intriguing. It makes Bing your editor, allowing the bot to reword anything you write to fit a desired tone.
As Microsoft puts it, “Whether you struggle to be formal in your work emails, or you’re learning a new language and want help with the nuances of word choice, the Tone feature has got you covered, with tones to make your words sound more professional, casual, polite, or concise enough for a social post.” It’s similar to how the company sees its Copilot AI (built on the same technological foundation as Bing) operating in Office docs.
(Also notable: it’s the first update for SwiftKey on iOS in ages, with Microsoft previously planning to kill the app. Clearly, the company thinks Bing gives SwiftKey a second chance at achieving some popularity.)
A keyboard-AI integration is not necessarily a new idea. There are other apps that offer similar functionality, like ParagraphAI, Smart Typer, and Typly. But it’s part of a growing trend in which AI becomes an intermediary for communication. It’s not clear how popular these apps will be (in my experience, AI-assisted editing is tricky to navigate on a small phone screen), but from Microsoft’s perspective, it’s another opportunity to insert itself into our technological lives, usurping a position currently occupied by rivals like Google and Apple.