Microsoft today announced the pending availability of Bing's Knowledge and Action Graph API. With it, developers can expose rich data inside their own apps without forcing users to reach for the search bar at the top of the screen. The idea is to prevent users from leaving the app by giving them the information they want automatically.
Microsoft says it has collated more than 21 billion "associated facts" and has 18 billion links to "key actions." This information is routinely accessed and used by people through Bing.com, Cortana, Xbox, Office and other Microsoft properties. Now, Microsoft wants to let everyone access these data points simply and easily no matter what app they're using.
The idea is similar to that of Google Now On Tap, which will arrive with Android 6.0 Marshmallow later this year. It relies on contextual information to deliver pertinent details at exactly the right time.
"Say you’re in your favorite social media app and you see your friend’s posting about a recent trip," says Microsoft. "Just long-press the home button and Bing will read the contents of your screen, identify the destination your friend posted about, and present you with information that you can find on the web to learn more, and a snapshot showing key facts about that destination, along with connections into relevant apps and services, like Lonely Planet. You get all this information without ever having to leave the app."
Microsoft added this power to the Bing for Android application today. Now, Android users who have installed Bing Search can experience this type of interaction and automatic detail discovery. Microsoft believes this API will end the need to interrupt app usage to perform a search and, eventually, delight end users.
Imagine messaging apps that auto-generate the details about restaurants or other destinations mentioned in conversations. Or photo apps that can automatically add details about points of interest to user images. Or music apps that can let users know when the band performing the song they're listening to will be in town next. The possibilities are exciting, to say the least.
Microsoft isn't opening the API up to everyone, at least not just yet. It is allowing developers to indicate their interest through a sign-up process. Microsoft said it will release the API to the first set of developers later this year. Developers interested in the Bing Knowledge and Action Graph API can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Microsoft said it hopes to work closely with those interested in the API.