Bing as a platform opens 3D maps, contextual voice support to devs

Bing as a platform for API developers
Developers can Bing It On with 3D maps

Microsoft is saying "Bing It On" to app developers, announcing at Build 2013 that it has opened up the search engine tools of Bing as a platform.

This means that third-party apps you download will no longer be shut out of using advanced Microsoft technologies like 3D mapping, contextual voice search, and OCR translation.

"Knowledge of the web is now available to your applications," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Gurdeep Singh Pall at today's conference in Seattle.

He demoed the Bing platform's capabilities that developers will be able to take advantage of starting today on the Bing Dev Center website.

Pall was able to add an item to a third-party application's to-do list using Bing's voice control, in this case a reminder about his intention to take a trip to Spain.

Gurdeep Singh Pall

Bing brings new ease to users

Contextual voice search

Pall went a step further and looked up information about this trip and had it read back to him with the Bing speech API, all without ever leaving the third-party to-do list applications.

The most amazing part of this demo was that Pall didn't have to repeat the "where" part of the information he was looking up.

Bing already knew the location he was dealing with thanks to its support of contextual voice search.

Bing Itinerary

Bing-tinerary anyone?

Bing 3D mapping for developers

During the demo, Pall announced that the Windows 8.1 map app will come with 3D capabilities and 3D imagery.

"You can enable [3D imagery] through your applications," explained Pall as he plotted his vacation.

Developers will be able to embed this 3D imagery into their apps along with the aforementioned voice support.

Bing voice support

Ask away, Bing fans

Speaking of 3D, Microsoft let it be known that it will bring native 3D printing support in Windows 8.1. There a few demos of 3D printing in action here at Build, with machines from the likes of MakerBot pumping out the multidimensional goods.

OCR translation

The final new feature of Bing as a platform for developers was optical character recognition, or OCR.


The OCR in action

When developers implement this technology into apps, users will be able to use a device's camera to translate text from a foreign language into their native tongue.

OCR, as demoed by Pall, allowed him to translate a sign that was in Spanish so that he could read what it said without pulling out a more cumbersome translator application.


Nifty features

OCR control combined with translator control joins maps and speech along with four other APIs on Microsoft's Bing Dev Center website.

Rounding of the new tools is Ads SDK, Synonyms API, Webmaster API, and of course Search API. Entity API is listed on the Bing developer website as "coming soon."

Users can Bing It On right now

In addition to making Bing as a platform available to developers today, Microsoft is showing what its search engine will be like when baked into Windows 8.1.

Microsoft released a Bing Windows 8.1 search demo, which is loaded up with examples of what it'll be like to use the power of the search engine when you simply start typing in the W8.1 start screen.

There's no need to "go to search" anymore, allowing you to find files on the PC and the web one step faster than before.

Matt Swider