Microsoft’s new and improved Bing search engine is getting a lot of attention (for both good and bad reasons) thanks to the inclusion of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot. And with the AI-powered Bing now appearing on some users' phones, it looks like it’ll be rolling it out to Android and iPhone smartphones as well.
However, while there will be plenty of smartphone users looking forward to trying out the ChatGPT-powered Bing after all the hype, I’m not sure this is a good idea.
That’s because despite the exciting potential of ChatGPT, its inclusion in Bing has highlighted some serious shortcomings of the AI chatbot. Many users have found ways to get some weird results, including the AI worrying about its memory, and getting mildly aggressive with users when its incorrect statements are challenged.
The fact that it’s returning incorrect statements is also worrying, as it’s supposed to be an authority that users can trust. And then there’s the troubling news that it has also been using offensive language – it’s clear that ChatGPT isn’t ready for primetime just yet, so putting it in a key service like Bing is a big risk.
However, Microsoft either doesn’t think that, or doesn’t care.
Continuing the roll-out
While some of ChatGPT’s more worrying glitches and quirks have been hastily fixed in Bing by Microsoft, such as limiting the chatbot to just five replies, rather than allowing conversations to keep going (and get progressively stranger), there’s still work to be done. In fact, even the mitigations Microsoft has implemented are being criticized for being too heavy-handed, and now making the new Bing less interesting to use.
With these kind of early hiccups, you’d expect the company to pause the rollout until they are addressed. However, it seems Microsoft is keen to keep pushing the new Bing, with MSPoweruser (opens in new tab) reporting that some users who have signed up to test early versions of the mobile Bing app (and the Edge web browser app) are starting to see the new AI-powered Bing interface pop up.
Screenshots have appeared showing us what the new Bing will look like for people with Android or iPhone smartphones – however, at the moment it appears that the ChatGPT functionality isn’t working.
Still, these screenshots suggest that Microsoft is continuing with its efforts to get the new Bing in front of as many people as possible – and that’s a terrible idea.
Not too late to change your mind, AI-powered or not
I can see why Microsoft is keen to keep ploughing on with pushing the new Bing. Since its announcement at an event in early February, 2023, there’s been a level of hype surrounding Microsoft’s unloved search engine that I’ve not seen before.
Rather than constantly being overshadowed by the much more popular Google, all of a sudden people were talking about checking out Bing. It even led to the Bing app making a rare appearance in the Apple App Store charts.
So it makes sense that Microsoft wants to keep this momentum going, and bring the new Bing to mobile phone users, especially as the majority of internet searches are now performed on a mobile device (opens in new tab), rather than a desktop PC or laptop.
However, this could do more harm than good. If Microsoft rushes out the new Bing to mobile users and it doesn’t work correctly, it may put people off trying the search engine again – especially for people who haven’t tried Bing before.
First impressions count, and if the new Bing makes a bad one, Microsoft may alienate a potentially huge market. By waiting until ChatGPT-powered Bing is working perfectly, Microsoft may miss out on some of the existing excitement, but it will mean that people’s experiences with it will be much better.
As the mobile version hasn’t rolled out to users just yet, there’s still time for Microsoft to apply the brakes and get it right. If not, it may regret it.