Bing Android app's Snapshot preempts Google Now on Tap

At I/O 2015 in late May, Google revealed its concept for putting the power of search inside each and every Android app. Called "Google Now on Tap", the still upcoming feature lets users search for information relevant to their current context, like the current song, artist or video, without having to leave the app. It seems, however, the Microsoft is beating Google to the punch in its own territory, updating its Bing Android app with a new "Snapshots" feature that is almost the same yet different from Google Now on Tap.

At first glance, Bing snapshots work almost similarly. Inside any app, long press the home button and you will be presented with search results based on the contents of your screen. It's like having an always-on web search right under your fingertips.

Technically, however, snapshots is implemented quite differently. It uses Android's accessibility function, which you have to enable for Bing, to read the contents of the screen. As such, results can be a hit or miss, depending on how well it is able to read the contents. At the moment, it isn't deeply integrated into apps unlike what Google Now on Tap is aiming for, but that's only a temporary situation.

Bing snapshots is actually just a foretaste of what Microsoft is really selling: its new knowledge and action graph API. This will basically give app developers deeper access to Bing's treasure trove of data and, conversely, exposes the app's current content to Bing for searching.

The actual API won't be available until some time in Fall and will naturally require developers to add the feature to their apps. It's not going to happen by magic. As to why they would even want to create more work for themselves, Microsoft is suggesting that 21 million facts covering billions of types of things, from people to places to music, might be enough of an incentive. Whether that happens in practice, however, is left to be seen.

Download: Bing on Google Play Store

SOURCE: Microsoft