What was always a search engine is now a developer platform. That's how Microsoft wants us to now regard Bing after the company announced that it was opening up Bing's Entity API along with programmer access to its speech capabilities.
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Microsoft has also opened up developer channels to optical character recognition, and translation technologies The Maps API will now also move under the purview of the Bing Services.
NOTE: Bing developer services are restricted to Microsoft Windows environments including Windows 8 and the currently technical preview status Windows 8.1 release, with the Xbox platform also included.
The Entity API is probably the most interesting element of the new Bing services announced here.
Microsoft says the Bing Entity API previewed at Build 2013 allows developers to create applications that are aware of the things that surround us every day and build scenarios that augment users' abilities to discover and interact with their world faster and more easily than they can do today.
According to the Microsoft developer blog, "The new services will focus on three broad categories of capabilities your applications can take advantage: services to bring entities and the world's knowledge to your applications, services to enable your applications to deliver more natural and intuitive user experiences, and services which bring an awareness of the physical world into your applications."
Microsoft says that the new streamlined Bing Developer Center puts all the content programmers will need in one single location, with links to documentation, downloads, sample code, how-to's, as well as links to partner blogs where you can find even more technical content.
"Being able to naturally converse with a device has long been a science fiction dream. The Bing Speech Control for Windows 8.1 showcases how users can interact with apps using their voice. While that control will be available in a few months, Bing's Text-to-Speech (TTS) API for Windows 8.1 is available today. The API gives devices and applications a voice by allowing them to speak out loud to make user interactions more natural and intuitive," said the company.