Microsoft has been rapidly improving its Bing Chat AI search over the past few months. Today the company revealed a slew of new features, and the promise of ChatGPT-like plugins down the road.
First, Bing Chat officially doesn’t have a waitlist anymore, after unofficially dropping the waitlist sometime in March. Microsoft is moving it to an “open preview,” but you still need a (free) Microsoft account, and the web version is still locked to Microsoft Edge.
Microsoft is also updating Bing Chat with “richer, more visual answers” for certain questions, with more charts and graphs, and improved formatting for text answers. In the example used by Microsoft, asking if a certain cactus plant grows flowers now displays an image of the plant below the AI-generated text answer. It looks a little more like an information card you’d get from normal web searches in Google or regular Bing.
Bing Chat is adding a chat history as well, similar to the side panel in ChatGPT, with a list of all your recent chats and the option to pick up where you left off. Microsoft is “exploring making your chats more personalized by bringing context from a previous chat into new conversations,” but it’s not clear when that functionality might arrive. The company is also adding new export and share features for conversations, Bing Image Creator is now supported in all Bing languages, and improved summarization for long documents is on the way.
Upcoming updates to Bing Chat will give it the ability to complete some actions on its own, instead of just providing you with information. Microsoft showed off a demo where a person asked for movie recommendations, then after Bing suggested The Batmanthe person asked to open it on the Apple TV website.
Microsoft is also working to add third-party plugins, which look similar to the plugins previously announced for ChatGPT. The blog post explains, “If you’re researching the latest restaurant for dinner in Bing chat, it will leverage OpenTable to help you find and book a reservation. Or, with Wolfram|Alpha, you can create powerful visualizations and get answers to complex science, math and human-curated data-based questions directly from Bing chat. We are working with our partners at OpenAI to make it easier and as consistent as possible for developers to take advantage of this opportunity.”
It’s clear Microsoft is moving towards a future where Bing Chat is more of a virtual assistant, than just a search and processing tool. We’ll have to wait and see if its accuracy improves enough to be more useful.