Microsoft is integrating its Bing chatbot into its smartphone keyboard app SwiftKey on Android and iOS, the company announced on Thursday. The new integration lets users chat with the bot directly from their mobile keyboard and search for things without having to switch between apps.
Bing boasts three major features on Swiftkey: Chat, Tone and Search. With the Chat functionality, you can access the new Bing on the go for more detailed queries. The company explains that the functionality can be useful for a variety of things. For instance, you can use the chat functionality if you’re looking for a clever pun to respond to someone’s message, or if you want to quickly find what dessert pairs well with a specific dish when you’re planning a party with your friends on mobile.
The Tone feature is designed to make it easier for users to communicate more effectively by using AI to customize their text to fit any situation. The feature can be useful in instances where you’re struggling to be formal in your work emails or you’re learning a new language and need help with word choice, Microsoft says. You can use the feature to make your sentences sound more professional, casual, polite or concise enough for a social media post.
With the Search functionality, you can quickly search the web directly from your keyboard, which essentially removes the need for switching between apps. The company outlines that the feature can be used when you’re talking to a friend and want to look something up mid-conversation.
The new features in SwiftKey are accessible in all markets where the new Bing is available. Anyone can use Search now, but accessing Tone and Chat requires users to sign into their Microsoft Account that has been approved to access the new Bing preview.
Microsoft notes that the update is available today, and that once you have received the update, you will see the Bing icon above the keyboard. From there, you can click on the exact feature you’d like to use; Chat, Tone or Search.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft had planned to shut down SwiftKey on iOS last year, but later decided not to. Microsoft is likely hoping to create some buzz and popularity around SwiftKey by integrating its new Bing into the product.
The company also announced today that it’s launching greater access to Bing in group chats on Skype. Microsoft integrated Bing into Skype back in February in preview. Now, group chats now only need one member with access to the preview to talk to Bing.
“This means as a group you can use the new Bing from within the Skype app just like you’d use the new Bing on desktop; you can use it to, for example, settle a debate, help plan a group trip, or find a restaurant for you all to meet at in person,” the company wrote in a blog post. “To get started, search for ‘Bing in Skype’ in your Skype contacts and add it to a group chat, just like you would any other contact. Just like on desktop, the new Bing chat responses in the Skype app which reference facts are cited with web links to sources, so you can double-check where the information is coming from.”
In addition, Microsoft announced that Bing is now available via Microsoft Start, which is the company’s personalized news reading experience.