Microsoft beats Google to the punch

Microsoft today is introducing a major new capability to its Bing Search app for Android. Now when you want more information on the people, places, and things you’re reading about, you can hold down the home button to get contextual information and take related actions courtesy of Bing, without switching apps.

That feature might sound vaguely familiar. That’s probably because, back in May, Google previewed Google Now on Tap, a feature in the forthcoming Android Marshmallow operating system that lets you get context from Google about the things you’re currently looking at onscreen.

Marshmallow isn’t coming out until this fall, so in a sense Microsoft has outdone Google in releasing this sort of thing to the world.

Indeed, Microsoft search general manager Ryan Gavin recognizes that this is “directly parallel to a lot of what you saw with Google Now on Tap.” But, Gavin characterized this as a starting point for the company’s efforts to do more with everything it knows about the world.

Microsoft today is also announcing a new Bing knowledge and action graph application programming interface (API) that developers can use to integrate Bing’s smarts into their apps.