Is Bing AI helping in the fight against Google? Apparently not – and Microsoft’s in denial

New statistics seemingly show that Microsoft’s Bing AI is not helping to drive traffic to its search site.

According to analytics firm Statcounter, has actually fallen in terms of its market share for global search engine traffic, so this isn’t even a case of the Bing chatbot only providing small gains – in fact, the search site has gone backward (as highlighted by ZDNet).

At least compared to January 2023, when had a share of 3.03% of the search market, and as of July of this year, that has dipped down very slightly to 2.99%.

In fairness to Microsoft, that 2.99% figure does represent a small gain on the 2.76% share had in April.

ZDNet also points to another analytics firm, Similarweb, which puts’s search share at 3.23% – which is pretty much the same as it was at the start of 2023.

Another analytics outfit, YipitData, also has numbers that apparently show Bing traffic at 95.7 million in February, growing to 99.2 million in April – but then falling to 97.7 million in June (this excludes China, mind you, and mobile devices too).

The overall picture this paints very much looks like has remained pretty much flat in terms of how many users are searching the web with the site, then, despite the launch of the Bing AI in February, and subsequent full rollout in May – and that was clearly not Microsoft’s plan.

Analysis: An uphill battle (and a half)

Microsoft is faced with a very steep uphill battle in the search sphere, where Google has been dominant for so long at this point. So, when the Bing chatbot came onto the scene, Microsoft was doubtless thinking this could be the secret weapon it needs to really cut into Google’s big lead.

Even Google was worried about what might happen – just recall the mad rush to launch its rival Bard AI, when Microsoft pushed Bing AI onto the scene (also rather too early, before it was really ready).

As noted, these fresh stats look worrying in terms of the light they cast on Bing AI’s impact, but Microsoft isn’t buying it, and claims the figures here are skewed – and that they fail to account for surfers who go directly to the Bing chatbot’s page.

Microsoft told ZDNet: “Our usage signals show strong growth since February and because of new access points like Bing Chat Enterprise, we’ve experienced one of our biggest growth months on record since we launched our new Bing and Edge experience.”

For their part, the analytics firms told ZDNet that their figures do take direct traffic to Bing Chat into account.

David F. Carr, senior insights manager at Similarweb, commented: “Microsoft says their internal numbers show greater growth than we’re reflecting. It’s possible that we’re missing some of the Bing Chat interactions that use an Edge sidebar or extension, but I don’t know how significant that is in the grand scheme of things.”

While we can’t know the full story here, and we certainly wouldn’t say Microsoft doesn’t have something of a point, the fact that there are three separate sources of third-party data which appear to – roughly – match with each other, is rather telling. And as Carr observes, any missing bits and pieces of data will likely be of questionable significance.

All that said, this will be a very long game for Microsoft, with the idea being that Edge,, and Bing AI will all reinforce each other, and ultimately build browser share as well as search share, taking on Chrome in the battle for the best web browser, as well as Google search.

Microsoft is certainly building in features for its chatbot at a rate of knots, and over time, Bing AI could help to build search (and browser) adoption, but at this admittedly relatively early stage, nothing much appears to be happening yet.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Google has apparently killed its AR glasses – and that’s good news for Apple

Google isn't averse to killing off its products, with the now-shuttered Stadia and the slow demise of Fitbit being the latest candidates for cremation – and now we can sadly add its AR translation glasses to the list, according to a new report.

According to Insider, Google has shelved its plans – codenamed Project Iris – to make augmented-reality glasses. If that's the case, we can wave goodbye to the live-translation spectacles that we first saw at Google IO 2022.

Google has apparently been working on its AR glasses project for several years, though the concept seemingly differs from the separate Extended Reality (or XR) initiative that it's started with Samsung

While the latter will likely be more of an Apple Vision Pro rival, with a ski-goggle design, this newly-canned AR project was apparently “a series of devices more closely resembling eyeglasses”. Like those exciting, prototype Google Translate glasses that we saw in the video below last year.

It now seems that Google has backtracked on making AR hardware itself, instead focus on making software and operating systems. The Insider source claims that Google is making an Android XR platform for Samsung's forthcoming headset, which leaks suggest will be a standalone device that works independently of a computer or phone.

According to an employee that Insider interviewed, Google now instead wants to be an “Android for AR” rather than a hardware player like it is in phones with the Pixel series. The search giant said at Google IO 2023 that it would “share more later this year” about its AR partnership with Samsung. But it looks like we'll sadly hear no more about its plans to make glasses specifically for Translate or Maps.

Analysis: The AR path is clear for Apple and Meta

A man wearing the TCL RayNeo AR glasses and looking at a graphic

TCL RayNeo X2s (above) are another example of AR translation glasses. (Image credit: TCL)

If Google has indeed canned its plans to make a series of AR glasses, that would be a real shame – we argued that Google IO 2023 felt like a now-or-never moment for its AR translation glasses to step towards reality, and it seems the search giant is erring towards 'never'.

What we particularly liked about the live-translation glasses concept was their unobtrusive design and singular focus – neither of which apply to Apple's larger Vision Pro, which is apparently uncomfortable to use for long periods.

It's possible that another company could come in and fill that gap. We had the pleasure of trying TCL's RayNeo X2 AR glasses at CES 2023, while Oppo's Air Glass 2 have an impressive design (if one that probably won't be available to buy in Western markets).

But otherwise the path is now clear for Apple, Meta and potentially Samsung to own the AR space. The Vision Pro isn't technically 'augmented reality', but Apple is rumored to be already working on two successors that might ultimately lead to some Apple Glasses.

But it's Meta that could ultimately fill the hole left by Google for some babel fish-style translation glasses. In February 2022, it announced its ambitious plans to make a 'Universal Speech Translator'. And at the time Mark Zuckerberg said that “with improved efficiency and a simpler architecture, direct speech-to-speech could unlock near human-quality real-time translation for future devices, like AR glasses”. 

With more news on Samsung's XR headset expected later this year, there's certainly no shortage of hardware players who are trying to put transparent computers on our faces – but given the suitably of services like Google Translate and Google Maps for some AR glasses, it's a shame that the search giant is no longer in that mix.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Google Chrome is apparently the fastest macOS web browser ever made

Google is constantly working to improve the speed of its browser and it appears these efforts have paid off as Google Chrome recently achieved the highest score yet on Apple's Speedometer 2.0 benchmark.

Since the launch of Chrome back in 2008, the search giant has set out to build the fastest browser regardless of whether you're using it on a smartphone or laptop.

In order to measure the speed of its browser, Google uses a combination of internal benchmarking infrastructure and public, industry-standard benchmarks. When it comes to comparing JavaScript performance in browsers, Apple's Speedometer 2.0 benchmark is the most broadly used tool today as it provides an accurate depiction of real world testing.

Since 2015, Google has been measuring Chrome's Speedometer scores on a 13-inch MacBook. While the browser's performance improved on Intel-based Macs, the release of Apple's M1 chips in 2020 have led to a huge performance increase.

Improving Chrome's performance

In a new blog post, Google explained that the projects it has worked on over the years have made a significant improvement to Chrome's performance. However, this wasn't the case with all of them.

For instance, with pointer compression the company was willing to take a small performance hit in order for Chrome to use less memory. This was also the case when the Spectre CPU exploit hit and Google had to trade performance to guarantee the safety of its users.

All in all, years of work on projects like fast C++ lookups, thin strings, revamping parser and more have led to an 83 percent improvement in Chrome's Speedometer score. Still though, it was the combination of Apple's introduction of the M1 CPU with Google's Sparkplug and LTO+PGO projects that helped Chrome rocket to the top of the Speedometer scores. Chrome now scores over 300 on Speedometer and this is the highest score any browser has ever achieved.

These scores will likely continue to improve as Google develops its browser further and Apple's new M1 Ultra chip will also give Chrome another big performance boost on macOS.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Chrome on Mac is apparently now faster than Safari

Google has announced that the latest version of its Chrome browser is faster than ever for Mac users.

The company says that its new Chrome M99 release for Mac has achieved greater speeds than ever before as it looks to streak ahead of its rivals.

A raft of improvements and optimizations now means that Chrome is 7% faster than the current builds of Safari, the company claims, alongside a 15% difference in graphics performance.

Chrome vs Safari

Among the changes to Chrome is ThinLTO, a build optimization technique that inlines speed-critical parts of the code base, even when they span multiple files or libraries.

When it comes to graphics performance, Google highlighted the effect of pass-through decoder and out-of-process rasterization technologies in giving Chrome a boost.

It also mentioned the use of Sparkplug, a new JavaScript compiler that offers a particular boost for Apple M1-based Macs thanks to its ability to generate efficient code with low compilation overhead, and short builtin calls, which are used by JavaScript  to optimize the placement of generated code inside the device’s memory.

Overall, Google says the cumulative effect of all these changes is that Chrome is now 43% faster than it was when it was first launched on M1-based Macs in late 2020.

“We go deep on every platform where Chrome runs to provide the fastest possible experience,” Google's Max Christoff, Senior Director, Chrome Engineering, said in a blog post announcing the news. 

“Every day, billions of people around the world turn to Chrome to get things done quickly on their devices, whether shopping for a new pair of headphones or pulling together a sales report for work. Nothing is more frustrating than having a slow experience while browsing the web. That’s why Chrome has always been focused on building the fastest possible browser since its launch in 2008, without compromising on feature functionality or security.”

Google added that Chrome Android users should also be enjoying a speed boost, with the browser up to 15% faster according to its data due to new optimized navigation technology that prioritizes critical navigation moments.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Windows 11 drive slowdown bug is finally fixed (but apparently not for everyone)

Windows 11 has received a new cumulative update which applies some important fixes, including patching up some File Explorer problems, and tackling the big SSD and hard drive slowdown bugbear which has been looming over the OS for a long time now (at least, in theory the patch deals with it – more on that later).

Update KB5008215 has been released for Patch Tuesday and brings with it the new emoji previously seen in testing (including Clippy replacing the paperclip), along with a whole bunch of bug fixes, most of which were already present in November’s preview update.

That includes solutions for Bluetooth audio volume problems, and various glitches with File Explorer such as it crashing after closing a window, and problems with displaying shortcut menus.

The big fix, though, is the cure for the gremlin causing sluggish drive speeds for some users. As Microsoft notes, the patch “addresses an issue that affects the performance of all disks (NVMe, SSD, hard disk) on Windows 11 by performing unnecessary actions each time a write operation occurs”.

Those write slowdowns can cut drive speeds in half, or worse, going by previous reports, so this is a major spanner in the storage works, and it’s good to see the fix go live.

Windows Latest reports that the cumulative update fixes these drive-related problems in its experience, but on a cautionary note, we have seen a few reports on the likes of Reddit from users who say their drive is still slower than it should be under Windows 11, even after applying KB5008215. There are also satisfied users commenting on those threads, too, saying their performance has been improved after the update.

Analysis: New patch is a positive step forward, but there are still concerns here

The fix for the driver issue is obviously an important one, as the performance reduction is huge in some reported cases, which hardly puts the new operating system in a good light. While this patch seems to fix things for a good number of Windows 11 users affected by sluggish drive performance, there are folks out there reporting that it didn’t do them any good; and that must remain a concern.

The drive slowdown bug is an issue which has been around for a good while now, indeed it surfaced a few months ago before Windows 11 was even released, and this – plus some scattered reports of it still not being cured now, with the fix applied – clearly point to it being a seriously thorny problem.

Hopefully Microsoft will be able to finalize any fresh tweaks that need to be done soon enough, but given that the holidays are almost here, the software giant won’t be putting out a preview update late in December. In other words, it won’t be until January that we see any further movement on this issue.

Obviously it’s also useful to see some File Explorer issues cleared up as well, but it’s another point of concern exactly how much has gone wrong with these fundamental building blocks of the desktop on Windows 11, all adding to the perception of the OS having been released a bit too early.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More