Microsoft is unveiling a major upgrade to its Bing chatbot today that adds image and video replies, restaurant reservations, chat history, and some smarter Microsoft Edge integration. These new features also coincide with Microsoft making Bing Chat available for anyone to try, from private to public preview.
Perhaps the biggest addition is a new Actions feature in Bing Chat and Edge. You can now use Microsoft’s Bing AI to perform tasks without navigating back and forth between sites. So if a search result recommends a restaurant, it can find a reservation time that works for you and help you book everything in the chat interface.
This also works through Edge, so if you’re looking for movies, you can just ask Bing AI to play it for you, and it will automatically select the right service and open the site to play the movie. Microsoft hasn’t listed all the partners it’s working with for Bing and Edge Actions, but the company has demoed OpenTable for restaurant reservations and Apple TV for movie search, so it’s safe to say those will be supported at launch in a few weeks .
The next step is the image and video search results in Bing Chat. “We’re introducing richer, more visual answers, including charts and graphs, and updated formatting of answers to make it easier for you to find the information you’re looking for,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s head of consumer marketing. Coming soon, you’ll be able to search and request photos or videos of objects, animals, places, and more in Bing Chat. Microsoft is also expanding its Bing Image Creator to more than 100 languages so you can easily use Bing Chat to create images.
Microsoft is also adding a much-requested feature to Bing Chat: history. With this new chat history, you can pick up chatbot conversations across devices and even use Bing Chat as an investigation tool. Microsoft also plans to add export and sharing features to Bing Chat, so you can share the content of a conversation on Twitter or even embed it in a Word document.
Where chat history gets really interesting is in Microsoft Edge. Opening a link from a Bing Chat response in Edge automatically moves that chat to a sidebar so you can keep asking questions as you browse the site. Microsoft is also experimenting with personalizing these chats by bringing context from past chat history into new conversations.
Edge compose in the sidebar is also getting better display options for text generation, with Edge Mobile also soon supporting page context so you can ask questions in Bing Chat about the page you’re on, just like the sidebar in the desktop version.
To top it off, Microsoft also opens up Bing Chat to third parties with plugin support. As with most of these new features, it’s not clear exactly when plugin support will be available, but Microsoft says it’s working with OpenTable for its Bing Actions reservations feature, Wolfram Alpha for visualizations, and OpenAI to let developers connect to Bing Chat.
“We believe this is a game-changer in reinventing search and expanding developer opportunities in search,” said Mehdi. “We look forward to sharing more details later this month during Microsoft Build.”