One of the big new features of Android 6.0 Marshmallow is Google Now on Tap, a feature that’ll let Google Now answer questions for you without context. For example, you can be listening to a Skrillex song and ask “What’s his real name?” and Google Now on Tap will tell you Skrillex’s real name. Google Now on Tap is slated to roll out with Marshmallow this fall, but it looks like Microsoft may have beaten Google to the punch with the feature.
Microsoft today updated its Bing Search app for Android with a new feature called “Bing snapshots.” When you long-press your device’s home button, Bing Search will detect what’s on your screen and then pull up a “snapshot” with more details on the topics on the page. The snapshot looks like a small card that pops up on top of the app that you’re in, and you can then tap the particular topic that you’d like to learn more about. Bing snapshots will pull details from the web like weather and Wikipedia details, and Microsoft’s demo also shows it linking to apps like Yelp and Airbnb.
The update Bing Search app is rolling out today, and the Bing snapshots feature requires Android 4.4 or higher.
If you don’t feel like waiting for Google Now on Tap to give contextually aware search a try, this Bing Search app looks like a nice way to give it a shot. The feature comes in handy for when you want to look up information about something you’re looking about, but you don’t want to jump out of one app, into another, and then back to your first app. In my use, the Bing Search app seemed to work as advertised, offering up lots of Wikipedia pages on topics and then links to other apps as well. For example, for Gmail it offered up the Wikipedia page on Gmail as well as Gmail’s official Facebook and Twitter pages.
If you give Bing snapshots a try, be sure to share your impressions!