Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) now boasts of the ability to search with images in the latest Bing update on IOS.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) recently released the update to its Bing app for Apple Devices only, which will allow iOS users to carry out an image search by taking a photo within the app. The feature can also search images in the devices gallery. The feature is currently available for devices running on iOS, but Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) also has a similar feature for mobile and desktop devices.
The Android feature for image search is, however, different because it is a reverse image search which focuses on images that are already on the internet. The update for Bing is more or less usable for new discoveries. Meaning that users will be able to crop a specific part of a photo and search for that cropped part of the image only. It is not clear whether Microsoft will release the same feature for Android and Windows devices. According to sources, users can crop particular parts of an image in order to carry out a specific search. They can then give feedback or even share the image through a different app. cropping an image also gives users an option for new search results.
The first test runs of the feature claim that the image recognition technology behind the feature is a major advancement but yet to be perfected. Nevertheless, it does have a lot of potential. Andrew Ng, an executive at Baidu Research, stated in 2014 that 50% of web searches in the next five years will be carried out through speech or image searches. Baidu Inc (ADR)(NASDAQ:BIDU) also has an image search for iOS, but it does not have support for the English language.
The Goggles App from Google offers image search where it suggests the location, or object in an image instead of carrying out a complete search. However, the Goggles app has not been updated since for two years. Pinterest also has a similar feature which lets users search images by cropping specific parts. It is therefore very similar to the Bing for the iOS feature. Microsoft will most likely refine the feature over the next few years.
Image recognition is still in its beginning years and has a long way to go. Many companies have played around with it over the years in various capacities including the well known Google Image search. However, there have been very few major milestones since then. This new partnership between Apple and Microsoft may pave the way for some significant advances with the technology and springboard image searching with user in a very major way.