Microsoft is integrating its Bing chatbot into its smartphone keyboard app SwiftKey on Android and iOS, the company announced Thursday. The new integration allows users to chat with the bot and search for things directly from their mobile keyboard without having to switch between apps.
Bing has three main features on Swiftkey: Chat, Tone, and Search. With the Chat functionality, you can access the new Bing on the go for more detailed questions. The company explains that the functionality can be useful for several things. For example, you can use the chat function if you’re looking for a clever pun to respond to someone’s message, or if you want to quickly find out which dessert goes well with a certain 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 adapt their text to any situation. The feature can come in handy in cases where you’re struggling to be formal in your work emails or when you’re learning a new language and need help with word choice, says Microsoft. You can use the feature to make your sentences sound more professional, casual, polite, or concise for a social media post.
The search functionality lets you quickly search the web right from your keyboard, essentially eliminating the need to switch 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 now use search, but to access Tone and Chat, users must sign in to their Microsoft account that has been approved to access the new Bing preview.
Microsoft notes that the update is available today and once you receive the update you will see the Bing icon above the keyboard. From there you can click on the exact function you want to use; Chat, show or search.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft planned to shut down SwiftKey on iOS last year, but later decided not to. Microsoft is probably hoping to create some buzz and popularity around SwiftKey by integrating its new Bing into the product.
The company also announced today that it is launching more access to Bing in group chats on Skype. Microsoft integrated Bing into Skype in preview in February. Now group chats now only need one member with access to the preview to talk to Bing.
“This means that as a group you can use the new Bing from the Skype app just as you would use the new Bing on the desktop; you can use it to settle a debate, help plan a group trip, or find a restaurant where you can all meet in person,” the company wrote in a blog post. “To start, 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 the desktop, the new Bing Chat Responses in the Skype app quote reference facts with web links to resources so you can verify where the information is coming from.”
In addition, Microsoft announced that Bing is now available through Microsoft Start, the company’s personalized news reading experience.