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There is plenty of fake news circulating on the internet today. The vast majority falls into the category of “Nobody capable of reading could actually be dumb enough to think this is true,” and yet the stories are liked, shared, and promoted by millions who inexplicably believe them. Of course, it doesn’t help when the fake news stories are being offered up by what you might otherwise assume to be a credible source of information—like from Microsoft’s Bing.

If you visit the Bing website, it defaults to a beautiful picture of the day with a white Bing search box in the middle. Across the top are links for News, Maps, Videos and Images. If you click on News, it automatically populates the search field with “top stories”. If you then click the other links, the “top stories” term remains, and the results that appear are related to the search “top stories.”

A YouTube channel dedicated to propagating ludicrous fake news figured out how to exploit this design flaw and game the Microsoft Bing page into displaying their stories—almost exclusively. The name of the YouTube channel is “Top Stories Today,” so it automatically ranks higher in a search for “top stories” because it’s right in the name.

The titles of most of the videos make it obvious that they’re blatantly false. If that wasn’t enough, though, the source should also be a tip-off. Any tinfoil hat wearing nutjob who thinks the Earth is flat, or Infowars is legitimate news can cobble together a YouTube video to convey whatever hallucinogenic, fever-inspired conspiracy theory they wish.

I was reluctant, but I took one for the team and clicked on a link. The narrator's voice sounds computer-generated—like if you mixed Sean Hannity and Max Headroom—so that too should be a hint that this news is a few apples short of a bushel. The “story” I clicked breathlessly “enlightened” me about what an awesome job actor James Woods did spewing verifiably false things about former President Barack Obama on Twitter.

The danger here is that someone who doesn’t know any better, and—for whatever reason—can’t pick up on all the clues, will see these videos displayed among videos from MSN and USA Today, and actually believe them. The tricky part about a decent fake news story is that it contains just enough truth or plausible content to suck you in, so by the end, you’re at least thinking, “Huh. Maybe?” Then, those people will go on Facebook and post them to share the shocking news with their friends and family and spark heated partisan debates.

For what it’s worth, this only seems to happen if the first link you click on from the Bing website is News. If you click Videos, Maps or Images first, the search field is not automatically populated with “top stories”, and even if you subsequently visit the News link it doesn’t populate with “top stories” or remain persistent when you go to the other links.

Hopefully, Microsoft is now aware of this flaw and will take steps to do something about it. That is just the tip of the iceberg, though. There’s a lot more than search engines, social media sites, and legitimate news sources need to do to counter the rising tide of fake news and restore some sanity online.

Update: Microsoft did, in fact, take immediate action to remove the YouTube fake news links from the Videos feed on Bing as quickly as possible once it was notified. the behavior of automatically populating the search criteria with "Top Stories" when you click on News first still occurs, but the fake news YouTube videos have been stripped from the results.

Source: This article was published forbes.com By Tony Bradley

Categorized in News & Politics

Specific answers for specific needs.

When most of us have a question we want to research online, we run to Google for the answer. But it's not the only search engine out there. Venture off the beaten path, and you can find more specialized sites—like the self-proclaimed "computational search engine" Wolfram Alpha or the privacy-conscious DuckDuckGo—that will help you track down exactly what you're looking for. While the well-trained algorithms of Google or even Bing might be the best choice in some situations, to find what you're seeking more quickly, it helps to know which search engine is best for which task.

General interest, personal updates, and games: Google

Let's go ahead and talk about the elephant in the article: When it comes to general searches, Google crushes the competition. It has an extremely well-trained algorithm and offers the largest index of pages—a search for "Mars planet," for example, brings up 5.7 million Google results as opposed to 99,800 Bing ones. That means this search behemoth is still more likely to turn up an obscure blog post, forum message, or online document than any of its rivals, which makes it ideal for researching computer error messages or specialized scientific topics.

On top of its general-interest search chops, Google is great for looking up highly specialized information...about you. Because of the search engine ties in with its other services, such as Gmail and Google Photos, it can pull up your personal data while you're signed into your account. Search for "my flights" or "my trips," and Google will pull details from your booking confirmation emails. On a less fun note, type in "my bills," and Google will sort through your email reminders, using them to show you any upcoming payments you need to make. As for images, try looking up "my photos of Sydney" (replacing the Australian city with your latest vacation destination), or search for photos based on time and date with "my photos from last week or "my photos from July 2014."

Finally, Google makes a great search engine if you're searching for a distraction—specifically a browser-based game. For example, look up "Atari Breakout," switch to the Images tab, and use the cursor keys to control the ensuing action. Similarly, try entering "solitaire," "pac-man," or "tic tac toe" to bring up basic versions of those titles. In addition to games, Google incorporates apps that do serve a purpose: Type "flip a coin" or "roll a die" to do just that, or input "stopwatch," "timer," or "calculator" to display the relevant utilities on screen. Then operate these mini-apps right from their Google results pages.

Images and videos: Bing

Although Bing aims to compete with Google in general search results, one of its real advantages lies in its image and video search abilities. On these results pages, Bing has more filtering options, a better display interface, and excellent suggestions for related searches.

When you're hunting for a video, the results page displays clips in a well-formatted grid rather than a list, making it easier to quickly browse through thumbnails. Bing also triggers an auto-preview feature whenever you hover the mouse cursor over a clip.

As for images, Bing provides extra methods for filtering your results, methods that Google doesn't offer. For example, if you're looking for a particular person, you can focus on only pictures that show faces. It also lets you apply a larger set of image-rights filters.

Images that are free to reuse: Flickr

While Bing lets you filter images based on their rights—how non-owners are allowed to use them—it can't beat the free-image search power of Flickr. Specifically, you can limit your image search to images that photographers have released under Creative Commons licenses, which allow you to repost their work for free, albeit with certain restrictions.

To get started, enter what you're looking for—let's say "cats" for this example—and click Search. Right away, you can adjust the order in which pictures appear by clicking the Relevant drop-down list on the right: Flickr lets you sort pictures by relevance, date, or the "interesting" filter, which elevates pictures that have drawn more activity, such as comments, views, and likes. You can further narrow down your options by color, depth of field, or pattern.

Even once you've limited your list to images you like, not all of them will be free to use. However, images released under Creative Commons often are, although the exact rules governing their use do depend on the specific type of CC license. To see the license under which an image has been released, click the copyright symbol on the lower-right of its photo page. And to filter by license, click the Any license drop-down menu on the left of the search page and limit your results to images released under Creative Commons.

Science and media data: Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha focuses on answering more technical science and math queries. For example, you can balance a chemical equation with a search like "Al + O2 -> Al2O3," look up properties of compounds with "flash point methane, butane, octane," and answer earth science questions like "seismic travel times from San Francisco to Las Vegas." It's equally adept with math equations: Try "circle, diameter=2," to find the properties of that shape, or test out a more complicated figure like "annulus, inner radius=2, outer radius=5." Draw graphs from "plot sin x cos y" to "plot 3x2-2xy+y2=1" and fill out sequences by typing the first few figures: "1, 2, 4, 8, ..."

But while Wolfram Alpha started with math, it has expanded its scope to provide data on literature, music, movie, and TV shows. Hit it with queries like "how many words in Hamlet?" to answer all your technical questions. You can also compare two items, such as "Hamlet vs Macbeth," to see how their publication dates, lengths, number of characters mentioned, and other data stack up. You can also compare stats about movies and TV shows in a similar way. Even natural language searches—such as "movies starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro" or "movies with the longest running time"—are fair game.

Of course, the computational search engine manages to add technical information to the mix: Run a query like "first episode of Friends," and Wolfram Alpha will tell you not only when that episode aired, but also how many days ago that date fell and what its sunrise and sunset times were.

Wolfram Alpha

See if Wolfram Alpha can solve your science, math, and media problems.

Wolfram Alpha

Job listings: LinkedIn

Don't neglect the search engines built into the sites you visit every day—these will often lead you to information that's only accessible to users who have signed into the site. In other words, a public search from Google or Bing won't be able to scrape this data.

LinkedIn makes a good example. Next time you go job hunting, start your search by signing into your account. Then click on the search box at the top of the page and choose Jobs. Hit All filters to see all the ways you can limit your results, including by experience level and industry. Limit them further by entering a job title and location in the fields at the top. Finally, click Search, and you're on your way.

Looking for potential new connections on LinkedIn is just as straightforward. Click in the box at the top, choose People, and click All filters. Now you can browse by name, title, location, company, industry, and more. Review the tick boxes on the right to filter for people you know directly (click 1st) or people connected to your existing contacts (click 2nd or 3rd+).

Private questions: DuckDuckGo

There's one big problem with search engines: The companies behind them keep track of what you're looking for. If you'd prefer to keep your browsing history private, then you need DuckDuckGo. It doesn't keep records of your searches, won't feed you personalized results, and refuses to provide fodder for targeted ads. DuckDuckGo also preserves your privacy as you browse elsewhere—so a search for "smartphones" won't cause an endless series of phone advertisements to begin appearing as you bounce around other sites. It's almost as if you never ran that search.

Beyond its focus on privacy, DuckDuckGo acts as a fast and comprehensive search engine, letting you hunt for images and videos as well as websites. It also enables you to restrict results by country or by publication date. Finally, you can search individual sites through the DuckDuckGo interface using a tool it calls Bangs: Try entering "!amazon shoes" or "!Wikipedia apollo missions" into the search bar to see how they work.

There are two types of searches that really benefit from DuckDuckGo's enhanced privacy. First, there's the secret inquiries that you really don't want Google keeping track of (particularly if you share a computer with others). When you decide to look up that weird rash that you don't want anyone to know about, do it on DuckDuckGo. Second, you should use the privacy-conscious search if you're searching for a product but don't want to receive ads about it for the rest of your life.

Source: This article was published popsci.com By David Nield

Categorized in Search Engine

Google might be the biggest but there are other search engines, too

Most people don't want three dozen search engines, especially people who are not trained internet users. Most people want a single search engine that delivers three key features:

  1. Relevant results (results you are actually interested in)
  2. Uncluttered, easy to read interface
  3. Helpful options to broaden or tighten a search

With this criteria, several of our reader favorites come to mind. These search sites should meet 99 percent of the searching needs of a regular everyday user.

Google Search

Google Search Google Search. screenshot

Google is the reigning king of 'spartan searching', and is the single most used search engine in the world. While it doesn't offer all the shopping center features of Yahoo! or the human curation of Mahalo, Google is fast, relevant, and the largest single catalogue of web pages available today. The search giant also tracks an incredible amount of information that many people don't even know they are giving out.

Make sure you try the Google 'images', 'maps' and 'news' features... they are outstanding services for locating photos, geographic directions, and news headlines. P.S. If you don't want Google to spy on you, protect yourself.

Duck Duck Go Search

DuckDuckGo search results DuckDuckGo search results. DuckDuckGo

At first, DuckDuckGo.com looks like Google. However, there are many subtleties that make this spartan search engine different.

DuckDuckGo has some slick features, like 'zero-click' information (all your answers are found on the first results page). DuckDuckgo offers disambiguation prompts (helps to clarify what question you are really asking). Plus, the ad spam is much less than Google.

 

Give DuckDuckGo.com a try... you might really like this clean and simple search engine.

Bing Search

Bing Search
 Bing Search. screenshot

Bing is Microsoft's attempt at unseating Google, and arguably the second-most-popular search engine today. Bing used to be MSN search until it was updated in summer of 2009.

Touted as a decision engine, Bing tries to support your researching by offering suggestions in the leftmost column, while also giving you various search options across the top of the screen. Things like 'wiki' suggestions, 'visual search', and 'related searches' might be very useful to you. Bing is not dethroning Google in the near future, no, but it is definitely worth trying.  

Dogpile Search

Dogpile Search Dogpile Search. screenshot

Years ago, Dogpile preceded Google as the fast and efficient choice for web searching. Things changed in the late 1990's, Dogpile faded into obscurity, and Google became king.

Today, however, Dogpile is coming back, with a growing index and a clean and quick presentation that is a testimony to its halcyon days. If you want to try a search tool with pleasant presentation and helpful crosslink results, definitely try Dogpile!

Yippy Search

Yippy Search Results
 Yippy Search Results. Yippy

Yippy is a Deep Web engine that searches other search engines for you. Unlike the regular Web, which is indexed by robot spider programs, Deep Web pages are usually harder to locate by conventional search.

That's where Yippy becomes very useful. If you are searching for obscure hobby interest blogs, obscure government information, tough-to-find obscure news, academic research and otherwise-obscure content, then Yippy is your tool. 

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar SearchGoogle Scholar Search. screenshot

Google Scholar is a special version of Google. This search engine will help you win debates.

Google Scholar focuses on scientific and hard-research academic material that has been subjected to scrutiny by scientists and scholars. Example content includes graduate theses, legal and court opinions, academic publications, medical research reports, physics research papers, and economics and world politics explanations.

If you are looking for serious information that can stand up in a heated debate with educated people, then forget regular Google... Google Scholar is where you want to go to arm yourself with high powered sources!

Webopedia Search

Webopedia Search
 Webopedia Search. screenshot

Webopedia is one of the most useful websites on the web. Webopedia is an encyclopedic resource dedicated to searching technology terminology and computer definitions.

Teach yourself what 'domain name system' is, or what 'DDRAM' means on your computer. Webopedia is absolutely a perfect resource for non-technical people to make more sense of the computers around them.

Yahoo! Search (and More)

Yahoo! Search
 Yahoo! Search. screenshot

Yahoo! is several things: it is a search engine, a news aggregator, a shopping center, an email box, a travel directory, a horoscope and games center, and more.

This 'web portal' breadth of choice makes this a very helpful site for Internet beginners. Searching the Web should also be about discovery and exploration, and Yahoo! delivers that in wholesale quantities. (By the way, here's what happened to Yahoo! avatars and Yahoo! 360 in case you were wondering.)

The Internet Archive Search

The Internet Archive SearchInternet Archive Search. screenshot

The Internet Archive is a favorite destination for longtime Web lovers. The Archive has been taking snapshots of the entire World Wide Web for years now, allowing you and me to travel back in time to see what a web page looked like in 1999, or what the news was like around Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

You won't visit the Archive daily like you would Google or Yahoo or Bing, but when you do have a need to travel back in time, use this search site.

 Source: This article was published lifewire.com By Paul Gil

Categorized in Search Engine

Google may be the household name when it comes to search, but Microsoft is hoping it can make its Bing search engine the smartest. The Redmond, Wash.-based company has announced a handful of new features that it says are powered by artificial intelligence. The updates will start rolling out on Wednesday and will continue over the coming week.

The biggest changes enable Bing to be smarter about the information it chooses to display above search results in response to a query. The search engine will now be able to pull information from multiple sources, rather than just one. If a user has a question or request with opposing answers or viewpoints, Bing will be able to aggregate both perspectives and display them at the top of the page.

One example of where users might see this is when typing in a query like “side effects of coffee.” Once Microsoft’s updates start to kick in, Bing will be able to pull bits of information from more than one source and show them alongside one another above results, so that users can see both angles without having to dig through a list of links. Google currently answers this type of question with a featured snippet, which is an informational block that sums up an answer with information extracted from a web page.

Similarly, if a search query involves some type of comparison, such as “yoga vs. pilates,” Bing will surface an information box that breaks down the differences between the two terms, rather than grabbing a snippet from an article. Microsoft’s Project Brainwave initiative, a platform for boosting real-time AI performance, provides the foundation for these additions to Bing, the company says.

Microsoft is adding other features to Bing as well. One can identify individual objects within photos that appear in image search results so that users can shop for those items. Another enables Bing to offer clarifying questions based on a search query in order to help filter results more precisely.

The news comes as Google continues to frequently refine its own search engine. Just this month alone, Google updated its featured snippets section to include more images as well as launched a new program that allows celebrities to answer commonly asked questions in a search. These features may be different than the functions Microsoft is pursuing with Bing, but the two companies are undoubtedly working toward the same goal of helping provide relevant information quickly without forcing users to trove through reams of data available on the web.

 

Bing also only accounts for a sliver of search engine traffic: Google held 81% of search engine market share across desktop and mobile devices between Dec. 2016 and Nov. 2017, according to analytics firm NetMarketShare. Baidu placed in second with 7.82% of the market, while Bing landed in third with 5.72%. Google also has a major advantage when it comes to mobile, considering its search bar sits on the home screen of most popular Android phones, and Android is estimated to account for roughly 85% of worldwide smartphone shipments according to IDC projections. Microsoft, meanwhile, recently said it has doesn’t intend to release new Windows Phone products. Bing, however, is the default search engine on Microsoft’s Edge browser, which comes preinstalled on Windows 10 computers.

But Microsoft’s improvements to Bing are likely about much more than just trying to steal some attention away from Google’s massively popular search engine. Smarter search tools will be important as new tech platforms, like virtual assistants, augmented and virtual reality, and smart home devices continue to spread, particularly if they’re relying on search results and history to answer questions or learn more about a user’s habits. “Search is more pervasive in everything we do as we spend more time online,” says Michael Inouye, a principal analyst for ABI Research. “That digital profile that we have [online] is going to become more valuable, and search is a big part of that.”

Source: This article was published time.com By LISA EADICICCO

Categorized in Search Engine

Reddit posts will appear in Bing's search results, and its data will be piped into Power BI for marketers to track brand-related comments.

Microsoft is bringing the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” to the pages of its search results.

Microsoft has struck a deal with Reddit to pipe data from the social network into Bing’s search results, as well as Power BI’s analytics dashboard, the companies announced on Wednesday.

Now, when people search on Bing, posts published to Reddit may be included in the search results. For example, if a person’s query asks something like “what were the best video games released in 2017,” answers may be sourced from comments left in Reddit’s “gaming” subreddit or topic-specific forum.

People will also be able to use Bing to specifically search for content from Reddit. Typing “reddit [subreddit name]” will return a link to that subreddit and a selection of top comments that have been posted to it. And typing “reddit AMAs” will return a collection of popular AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) sessions, which are live question-and-answer forums that people can host on Reddit. Additionally, if people search for the name of a person who has a hosted an AMA on Reddit, a selection of responses from the Q&A session will appear among the non-Reddit results.

In addition to bringing Reddit’s data to Bing users, Microsoft is also opening that data up to brands. Brands will be able to access Reddit data through Microsoft’s Power BI analytics tool, with options to specify the keywords to track and toggle the time frames to examine. As a result, marketers will be able to monitor what people are saying about their brand or competing brands on Reddit and have that information processed using Power BI’s sentiment analysis feature and plotted into data visualizations.

The deal with Microsoft’s Power BI is similar to one that Reddit announced with social marketing platform Sprinklr last week in terms of accessing Reddit data. Brands will be able to see which subreddits they are mentioned on and then buy ads targeted those audiences.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Tim Peterson

Categorized in Search Engine

Queries provide data mine for Microsoft's AI developments

Microsoft's Bing search engine has long been a punch line in the tech industry, an also-ran that has never come close to challenging Google's dominant position.

But Microsoft could still have the last laugh, since its service has helped lay the groundwork for its burgeoning artificial intelligence effort, which is helping keep the company competitive as it builds out its post-PC future.

Bing probably never stood a chance at surpassing Google, but its 2nd-place spot is worth far more than the advertising dollars it pulls in with every click. Billions of searches over time have given Microsoft a massive repository of everyday questions people ask about their health, the weather, store hours or directions.

“The way machines learn is by looking for patterns in data,” said former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, when asked earlier this year about the relationship between Microsoft's AI efforts and Bing, which he helped launch nearly a decade ago. “It takes large data sets to make that happen.”

Microsoft has spent decades investing in various forms of artificial intelligence research, the fruits of which include its voice assistant Cortana, email-sorting features and the machine-learning algorithms used by businesses that pay for its cloud platform Azure.

It's been stepping up its overt efforts recently, such as with this year's acquisition of Montreal-based Maluuba, which aims to create “literate machines” that can process and communicate information more like humans do.

Some see Bing as the overlooked foundation to those efforts.

“They're getting a huge amount of data across a lot of different contexts – mobile devices, image searches,” said Larry Cornett, a former executive for Yahoo's search engine. “Whether it was intentional or not, having hundreds of millions of queries a day is exactly what you need to power huge artificial intelligence systems.”

Bing started in 2009, a rebranding of earlier Microsoft search engines. Yahoo and Microsoft signed a deal for Bing to power Yahoo's search engine, giving Microsoft access to Yahoo's greater search share, said Cornett, who worked for Yahoo at the time. Similar deals have infused Bing into the search features for Amazon tablets and, until recently, Apple's Siri.

All of this has helped Microsoft better understand language, images and text at a large scale, said Steve Clayton, who as Microsoft's chief storyteller helps communicate the company's AI strategy.

“It's so much more than a search engine for Microsoft,” he said. “It's fuel that helps build other things.”

Bing serves dual purposes, he said, as a source of data to train artificial intelligence and a vehicle to be able to deliver smarter services.

While Google also has the advantage of a powerful search engine, other companies making big investments in the AI race – such as IBM or Amazon – do not.

“Amazon has access to a ton of e-commerce queries, but they don't have all the other queries where people are asking everyday things,” Cornett said.

Neither Bing nor Microsoft's AI efforts have yet made major contributions to the company's overall earnings, though the company repeatedly points out “we are infusing AI into all our products,” including the workplace applications it sells to corporate customers.

The company on Thursday reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $6.6 billion, up 16 percent from a year earlier, on revenue of $24.5 billion, up 12 percent. Meanwhile, Bing-driven search advertising revenue increased by $210 million, or 15 percent, to $1.6 billion – or roughly 7 percent of Microsoft's overall business.

That's OK by current Microsoft current CEO Satya Nadella, who nearly a decade ago was the executive tapped by Ballmer to head Bing's engineering efforts.

In his recent autobiography, Nadella describes the search engine as a “great training ground for building the hyper-scale, cloud-first services” that have allowed the company to pivot to new technologies as its old PC-software business wanes.

Source: This article was published journalgazette.net By MATT O'BRIEN

Categorized in Search Engine

Visual search engines will be at the center of the next phase of evolution for the search industry, with Pinterest, Google, and Bing all announcing major developments recently. 

How do they stack up today, and who looks best placed to offer the best visual searchexperience?

Historically, the input-output relationship in search has been dominated by text. Even as the outputs have become more varied (video and image results, for example), the inputs have been text-based. This has restricted and shaped the potential of search engines, as they try to extract more contextual meaning from a relatively static data set of keywords.

Visual search engines are redefining the limits of our language, opening up a new avenue of communication between people and computers. If we view language as a fluid system of signs and symbols, rather than fixed set of spoken or written words, we arrive at a much more compelling and profound picture of the future of search.

Our culture is visual, a fact that visual search engines are all too eager to capitalize on.

visual culture

Already, specific ecommerce visual search technologies abound: Amazon, Walmart, and ASOS are all in on the act. These companies’ apps turn a user’s smartphone camera into a visual discovery tool, searching for similar items based on whatever is in frame. This is just one use case, however, and the potential for visual search is much greater than just direct ecommerce transactions.

After a lot of trial and error, this technology is coming of age. We are on the cusp of accurate, real-time visual search, which will open a raft of new opportunities for marketers.

Below, we review the progress made by three key players in visual search: Pinterest, Google, and Bing.

Pinterest

Pinterest’s visual search technology is aimed at carving out a position as the go-to place for discovery searches. Their stated aim echoes the opening quote from this article: “To help you find things when you don’t have the words to describe them.”

Pinterest 200M_0

Rather than tackle Google directly, Pinterest has decided to offer up something subtly different to users – and advertisers. People go to Pinterest to discover new ideas, to create mood boards, to be inspired.  Pinterest therefore urges its 200 million users to “search outside the box”, in what could be deciphered as a gentle jibe at Google’s ever-present search bar.

All of this is driven by Pinterest Lens, a sophisticated visual search tool that uses a smartphone camera to scan the physical world, identify objects, and return related results. It is available via the smartphone app, but Pinterest’s visual search functionality can be used on desktop through the Google Chrome extension too.

Pinterest’s vast data set of over 100 billion Pins provides the perfect training material for machine learning applications. As a result, new connections are forged between the physical and digital worlds, using graphics processing units (GPUs) to accelerate the process.

pinterest object detection

In practice, Pinterest Lens works very well and is getting noticeably better with time. The image detection is impressively accurate and the suggestions for related Pins are relevant.

 

Below, the same object has been selected for a search using Pinterest and also Samsung visual search:

Pinterest_Samsung

The differences in the results are telling.

On the left, Pinterest recognizes the object’s shape, its material, its purpose, but also the defining features of the design. This allows for results that go deeper than a direct search for another black mug. Pinterest knows that the less tangible, stylistic details are what really interest its users. As such, we see results for mugs in different colors, but that are of a similar style.

On the right, Samsung’s Bixby assistant recognizes the object, its color, and its purpose. Samsung’s results are powered by Amazon, and they are a lot less inspiring than the options served up by Pinterest. The image is turned into a keyword search for [black coffee mugs], which renders the visual search element a little redundant.

Visual search engines work best when they express something for us that we would struggle to say in words. Pinterest understands and delivers on this promise better than most.

Pinterest visual search: The key facts

  • Over 200 million monthly users
  • Focuses on the ‘discovery’ phase of search
  • Pinterest Lens is the central visual search technology
  • Great platform for retailers, with obvious monetization possibilities
  • Paid search advertising is a core growth area for the company
  • Increasingly effective visual search results, particularly on the deeper level of aesthetics

Google

Google made early waves in visual search with the launch of Google Goggles. This Android app was launched in 2010 and allowed users to search using their smartphone camera. It works well on famous landmarks, for example, but it has not been updated significantly in quite some time.

It seemed unlikely that Google would remain silent on visual search for long, and this year’s I/O development revealed what the search giant has been working on in the background.

google lens

Google Lens, which will be available via the Photos app and Google Assistant, will be a significant overhaul of the earlier Google Goggles initiative.

Any nomenclative similarities to Pinterest’s product may be more than coincidental. Google has stealthily upgraded its image and visual search engines of late, ushering in results that resemble Pinterest’s format:

Google_Image_Search

Pinterest_image_search

Google’s ‘similar items’ product was another move to cash in on the discovery phase of search, showcasing related results that might further pique a consumer’s curiosity.

Google Lens will provide the object detection technology to link all of this together in a powerful visual search engine. In its BETA format, Lens offers the following categories for visual searches:

  • All
  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Handbags
  • Sunglasses
  • Barcodes
  • Products
  • Places
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Flowers

Some developers have been given the chance to try an early version of Lens, with many reporting mixed results:

Lens_BETA

Looks like Google doesn’t recognize its own Home smart hub… (Source: XDA Developers)

These are very early days for Google Lens, so we can expect this technology to improve significantly as it learns from its mistakes and successes.

When it does, Google is uniquely placed to make visual search a powerful tool for users and advertisers alike. The opportunities for online retailers via paid search are self-evident, but there is also huge potential for brick-and-mortar retailers to capitalize on hyper-local searches.

For all its impressive advances, Pinterest does not possess the ecosystem to permeate all aspects of a user’s life in the way Google can. With a new Pixel smartphone in the works, Google can use visual search alongside voice search to unite its software and hardware. For advertisers using DoubleClick to manage their search and display ads, that presents a very appealing prospect.

We should also anticipate that Google will take this visual search technology further in the near future.

Google is set to open its ARCore product up to all developers, which will bring with it endless possibilities for augmented reality. ARCore is a direct rival to Apple’s ARKit and it could provide the key to unlock the full potential of visual search. We should also not rule out another move into the wearables market, potentially through a new version of Google Glass.

Google visual search: The key facts

  • Google Goggles launched in 2010 as an early entrant to the visual search market
  • Goggles still functions well on some landmarks, but struggles to isolate objects in crowded frames
  • Google Lens scheduled to launch later this year (Date TBA) as a complete overhaul of Goggles
  • Lens will link visual search to Google search and Google Maps
  • Object detection is not perfected, but the product is in BETA
  • Google is best placed to create an advertising product around its visual search engine, once the technology increases in accuracy

Bing

Microsoft had been very quiet on this front since sunsetting its Bing visual search product in 2012. It never really took off and perhaps the appetite wasn’t quite there yet among a mass public for a visual search engine.

Recently, Bing made an interesting re-entry to the fray with the announcement of a completely revamped visual search engine:

This change of tack has been directed by advances in artificial intelligence that can automatically scan images and isolate items.

The early versions of this search functionality required input from users to draw boxes around certain areas of an image for further inspection. Bing announced recently that this will no longer be needed, as the technology has developed to automate this process.

The layout of visual search results on Bing is eerily similar to Pinterest. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Pinterest should be overwhelmed with flattery by now.

Bing_Pinterest

The visual search technology can hone in on objects within most images, and then suggests further items that may be of interest to the user. This is only available on Desktop for the moment, but Mobile support will be added soon.

The results are patchy in places, but when an object is detected relevant suggestions are made. In the example below, a search made using an image of a suit leads to topical, shoppable links:

Bing_Suit

It does not, however, take into account the shirt or tie – the only searchable aspect is the suit.

Things get patchier still for searches made using crowded images. A search for living room decor ideas made using an image will bring up some relevant results, but will not always hone in on specific items.

As with all machine learning technologies, this product will continue to improve and for now, Bing is a step ahead of Google in this aspect. Nonetheless, Microsoft lacks the user base and the mobile hardware to launch a real assault on the visual search market in the long run.

Visual search thrives on data; in this regard, both Google and Pinterest have stolen a march on Bing.

Bing visual search: The key facts

  • Originally launched in 2009, but removed in 2012 due to lack of uptake
  • Relaunched in July 2017, underpinned by AI to identify and analyze objects
  • Advertisers can use Bing visual search to place shoppable images
  • The technology is in its infancy, but the object recognition is quite accurate
  • Desktop only for now, but mobile will follow soon

So, who has the best visual search engine?

For now, Pinterest. With billions of data points and some seasoned image search professionals driving the technology, it provides the smoothest and most accurate experience. It also does something unique by grasping the stylistic features of objects, rather than just their shape or color. As such, it alters the language at our disposal and extends the limits of what is possible in search marketing.

Bing has made massive strides in this arena of late, but it lacks the killer application that would make it stand out enough to draw searchers from Google. Bing visual search is accurate and functional, but does not create connections to related items in the way that Pinterest can.

The launch of Google Lens will surely shake up this market altogether, too. If Google can nail down automated object recognition (which it undoubtedly will), Google Lens could be the product that links traditional search to augmented reality. The resources and the product suite at Google’s disposal make it the likely winner in the long run.

Source: This article was published searchenginewatch.com By Clark Boyd

Categorized in Search Engine

Need a new show to watch? Bing helps make your options clear.

Bing users in search of their next Netflix binge may now have an easier time finding the perfect show. Microsoft announced a few updates to its search engine through a blog post, with one of them being entertainment search results showing content options from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The update makes Bing smarter and better able to give you suggestions based on entertainment-related searches. Bing will show up-to-date information about trending search topics like “fall 2017 TV premieres,” as well as service-specific topics like “trending movies on Netflix.” Results show up in a carousel at the top of the results page, separated from webpage links, much like visual results in Google’s search engine. An image in the blog post shows that you can further filter search results by year, genre, and show rating.

Bing now also has a new “My Saves” section where you can save images and videos for later reference. To save media to your Saves section, you’ll only need to hover over the image or video and press the small plus icon that appears. Saves appears to be similar to a media-specific bookmark collection, with the option to make specific folders based on the types of media you want access to quickly (one folder in an image on the Bing blog is entirely dedicated to “favorite cat videos”).

Windows Phone may be dead, but Bing mobile search isn’t. The final new Bing feature in this update adds tabbed sections to search results on mobile devices. When searching movies, artists, and other types of entertainment, mobile searches will now display information through tabbed sections like “cast,” “showtimes,” and “reviews.” The first search results page is considered the “overview” tab, while the other category-specific tabs appear next to it, allowing users to more easily see specific information about any piece of entertainment.

Again, Microsoft took a page out of Google’s book with these mobile tabs. In general, they provide good organization to mobile search results while also providing more visual information compared to the slew of hyperlinks we’re used to seeing in desktop searches.

Source: This article was published arstechnica.com By VALENTINA PALLADINO

Categorized in Search Engine

SFW Some of the dozens of users of Bing today spotted a lewd sand carving semi-hidden in the Microsoft search engine's front page splash photo.

The snap, an overhead shot of an idyllic beach, sits behind the search bar on Bing.com. The crude anatomical artwork was clocked about three hours ago, and may have been there even longer. You can see the offending appendage in the lower right-hand corner of the picture:

Yup, that's a penis

What a dick move. Our probing investigative team in the UK earlier had a stiff drink, took a close look, and verified this was legit and not a prank Photoshop. In the past hour, the Bing team got wise to the sandy schlong and edited out the free willy on its premier dot-com.

Bang, and the chopper is gone

We've asked Microsoft for comment on the matter, but so far Redmond has yet to poke its head out on this one. Hopefully the person responsible for this cock-up won't be given the shaft. ®

Updated to add

A Microsoft spokesperson told us the Windows giant has nothing to say.

Source: This article was published theregister.co.uk By Shaun Nichols

Categorized in Search Engine

Search engine alternatives to that of Yahoo, Google, and Bing, are highly sought by some users who really value privacy. If you are not fond of being tracked, below are some of the helpful best search engine alternatives you may want to check.

on the list for privacy-conscious individuals would be DuckDuckGo. The privacy statement alone assures users that it does not log personally identifiable information, according to How To Geek.

The said site has been gaining audiences since it was first launched back in 2008. The sense of anonymity has been highly valued by the site, which is why DuckDuckGo does not take note of cookies, user agents, and IP addresses.

 

However, if you can't get enough Google as your search engine, then you might want to try visiting Startpage. This particular search engine works by submitting your search to Google and returning the results to you.

What Google will actually see is not your information, but rather vast amount of searches from  Startpage's servers. Thus, keeping your privacy intact.

Similar to Startpage, Ixquick also functions the same. However, instead of searching on Google alone, it searches other sources.

Both sites somehow share basic site design and functionalities. Such connection may be associated with the fact that Ixquick is also being run by the same company running Startpage.

Another alternative also is Blekko. Although slightly similar to the aforementioned sites, Blekko records personally identifiable information, but would eventually delete it within 48 hours in contrast to that of Google's nine months policy.

Using Blekko may be something new for some users. The said site utilizes an initiative called slashtags, which makes use of "/" slash character for custom or categorized searches, according to Search Engine Watch.

If you really value your privacy, it would not hurt a bit to try the above-mentioned top and best search engine alternatives. Despite not being known to everyone, they serve their purpose very well.

Watch here below ways to be anonymous online:

Source: This article was published telegiz.com By Jacques Strauss

Categorized in Search Engine
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