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How Microsoft Beat Google To Android’s Next Big Trick

This spring, Google showed the world a radical plan to reshape how we use our phones. A new feature called Now on Tap would surface relevant information within whatever app you happen to have open, sourced from the Web and other apps. It’s a near-magical way for users to avoid tedious app switching, one with profound consequences for developers and the Android ecosystem. The only wrinkle in Google’s grand vision? Microsoft has beaten them to the punch.1-2 Not only that, but Microsoft has encroached on Google’s turf on two different fronts. The first is a Bing for Android update that includes a feature that Microsoft calls “snapshots.” In practice, they’re very similar to the contextual search powers Now on Tap promised in May.1-3With the new Bing on your device, a swipe up from the Home button from within any app will deliver results from Bing pertaining to what you see on the page. Those could range from simple image search results to icons that jettison you to relevant apps. If you’d rather reserve that specific gesture for Google Now, a small, shadowy half-circle can lurk on the side of your display instead. A swipe to the center summons Bing like Igor from the dungeon.

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