Microsoft’s Copilot chatbot will get 6 big upgrades soon – including ChatGPT’s new brain

Microsoft has announced that Copilot – the AI chatbot formerly known as Bing Chat – is soon to get half a dozen impressive upgrades.

This batch of improvements should make the Copilot chatbot considerably more powerful in numerous respects (outside of, and inside of Windows 11).

So, first off, let’s break down the upgrades themselves (listed in a Microsoft blog post) before getting into a discussion of what difference they’re likely to make.

Firstly, and most importantly, Copilot is getting a new brain, or we should say an upgraded brain in the form of GPT-4 Turbo. That’s the latest model of GPT from OpenAI which makes various advances in terms of being generally better and more accurate.

Another beefy upgrade is an updated engine for Dall-E 3, the chatbot’s image creation feature, which produces higher quality results that are more closely aligned with what’s requested by the user. This is actually in Copilot right now.

Thirdly, Microsoft promises that Copilot will do better with image searches, returning better results when you sling a picture at the AI in order to learn more about it.

Another addition is Deep Search which uses GPT-4 to “deliver optimized search results for complex topics” as Microsoft puts it. What this means is that if you have a query for Copilot, it can produce a more in-depth search request to produce better results. Furthermore, if the terms of your query are vague and could potentially relate to multiple topics, Deep Search will follow up on what those topics might be and offer suggestions to allow you to refine the query.

The fifth upgrade Microsoft has planned is Code Interpreter, which as the name suggests will help perform complex tasks including coding, data analysis and so forth. That’s not something the average user will benefit from, but there are those who will, of course.

Finally, Copilot in Microsoft’s Edge browser has a rewrite feature (for inline text composition) coming soon. This allows you to select text on a website and get the AI to rewrite it for you.

Analysis: Something for Google to worry about

Dall-E 3

(Image credit: Future)

There are some really useful changes inbound here. Getting GPT-4 Turbo is an upgrade (from GPT-4) that a lot of Copilot users have been clamoring for, and Microsoft tells us that it’s now being tested with select users. (We previously heard it still had a few kinks to iron out, so presumably that’s what’s currently going on).

GPT-4 Turbo will be rolling out in the “coming weeks” so it should be here soon enough, with any luck, and you’ll be able to see the difference it makes for you in terms of a greater level of accuracy for the chatbot when responding to your queries.

It’s great to see Dall-E 3 getting an upgrade, too, as it’s already an excellent image creation engine, frankly. (Recall the rush to use the feature when it was first launched, due to the impressive results being shared online).

The search query improvements, both the Deep Search capabilities and refined image searching, will also combine with the above upgrades to make Copilot a whole lot better across multiple fronts. (Although we do worry somewhat about the potential for abuse with that inline rewrite feature for Edge).

All of this forward momentum for Copilot comes as we just heard news of Google delaying its advances on the AI front, pushing some major launches back to the start of 2024. Microsoft isn’t hanging around when it comes to Copilot, that’s for sure, and Google has to balance keeping up, without pushing so hard that mistakes are made.

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WhatsApp’s built-in AI chatbot looks like its rolling out to more people

AI bots are rapidly being added to just about every app and platform you can think of – with more on the way – and WhatsApp is stepping up its testing of a chatbot of its own, with easier access to the feature now on the way.

Back in September, WhatsApp owner Meta announced a variety of AI upgrades that would be coming to its products. Since then, a small number of users have been able to play around with an AI chatbot inside WhatsApp, capable of answering questions, generating text, and creating art like stickers.

Now, as spotted by WABetaInfo (via Android Police), a shortcut to the AI chat functionality has been added to the conversations screen in the beta version of WhatsApp for Android. If you're running the early beta version of the app, you may see it soon.

It also means that it shouldn't be too long before the rest of us get the same feature, and we can see how WhatsApp's AI helper compares against the likes of ChatGPT and Google Bard when it comes to providing useful and accurate information.

WhatsApp and AI

From what Meta has said so far, the purpose of the AI chatbot inside WhatsApp is to help with daily activities, offering advice and suggestions: how to entertain the kids at the weekend perhaps, or what to look for when upgrading a smartphone.

WhatsApp is by no means the first messaging app to give this a try – Snapchat introduced a similar feature back in February, and the chats with the AI buddy appears alongside the rest of your conversations through the app.

Such are the capabilities of generative AI now, you can really ask these bots anything you like – from relationship advice to questions about complex technical topics. The point of them being built into apps is that you're less likely to leave the app and go somewhere else to get your AI-produced responses.

WhatsApp continues to be one of the most regularly updated apps out there: we've recently seen AI-made chat stickers, newsletter tools, and features to fight spammers introduced for users of the instant messenger.

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Google Maps could soon be getting its own AI chatbot

Google hasn't been shy about pushing artificial intelligence into its various apps and services, and it seems that the venerable Google Maps could be next in line to get an integrated AI chatbot of its own.

Code hidden in the latest beta version of Google Maps for Android, as spotted by Android Authority, makes various mentions of in-app conversations – including the line “you're talking with a chatbot”, which sort of gives the game away.

However, only a few strings of related code have been spotted so far, so we don't have too much more information about this chatbot in terms of what form it will take, what it's designed to do, and how it will integrate with the rest of Google Maps.

Nothing is certain yet, and of course Google could easily change its mind about the Maps chatbot – but given the company's focus on AI these last few months, we wouldn't be surprised to see this new feature arriving in the app very soon.

Getting chatty

Without any official word from Google, we're left to speculate what an AI chatbot in Google Maps might do. As Android Authority points out, it could well be something to do with submitting reviews and comments to Google Maps, perhaps via the Local Guides program.

The line of code that says “thank you for your contribution” certainly backs that up. Perhaps a chatbot might swing into action when you've visited a place, asking what your experience was like or what you thought of the service.

Another possibility is that the upcoming bot will actually give you travel advice: what to see in a particular area, where the best places to stay are, and so on. This would be similar to the advice that Google Bard (now with Google Maps integration) can already give.

AI chatbots might also be used to field questions from Google Maps users to businesses – questions about opening hours and facilities, for example. Right now, these questions can be posted and answered by humans, but AI might be about to step in.

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Some users will find Microsoft’s Bing AI chatbot is suddenly a lot more helpful

Microsoft has made a big change to its Bing AI for one of the modes of the chatbot’s operation, namely the ‘Precise’ mode.

As users of the AI will be aware, there are three modes that can be selected for the Bing AI: the mentioned Precise setting, as well as Balanced, and Creative.

Precise mode is for those who want shorter and more factual answers in their dealings with the AI, whereas Creative lets the chatbot more off the leash in terms of replies (and Balanced strikes a compromise between these two ends of the freedom spectrum, as it were).

According to Mikhail Parakhin, head of Advertising and Web Services at Microsoft, the company has finished rolling out a “pretty big update” for the Precise mode.

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As Parakhin explained on X (formerly Twitter), this doesn’t entail introducing new features for Precise mode, just ensuring that the chatbot gives better answers with this setting.

Analysis: Pushing forward for a better Bing bot

Delivering better answers is, of course, one of the most effective ways Microsoft can improve its Bing AI. As Parakhin observes in the above tweet, the polishing of Precise mode has been noted by some users, even if they’ve framed it as ‘Creative is worse, and Precise is better than it now’, rather than it being a positive step forward for Precise. Which it definitely is, we shouldn’t need to add.

There’s another way that Microsoft is working on making Bing AI’s responses better, and that’s a ‘no search’ parameter. This is something that’s been mentioned in the past which will allow users to cut off the chatbot from the web (search functions) when formulating an answer.

In other words, you’ll be getting a direct answer from the AI (as opposed to one informed by search content derived from the web), and that could be useful in certain situations (like queries about coding, for example). It’ll also mean that responses should be swifter, too, without having to scrape the web for extra bits of data.

So what’s happening with the ‘no search’ function? Apparently, it’s going to be implemented as a plug-in, rather than directly into Bing AI, and is still inbound according to Parakhin (and will happen as part of the general plug-in rollout). Hat tip to Neowin for spotting that one.

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Meta is planning on introducing dozens of chatbot personas – including a Futurama favourite

Meta is gearing up to announce a generative artificial intelligence chatbot (internally dubbed as ‘Gen AI Personas’) that is aimed at enticing younger users to the world of AI chatbots. The new chatbot is expected to launch during Meta’s Connect event on September 27, and will introduce some familiar but… dated ‘personas’. 

The Verge notes that the chatbots will come with different personas that will promote more humanlike, engaging conversations to appeal to younger users.  One of the ‘sassy’ robot personas is inspired by Bender from Futurama and Alvin the Alien.  

Meta is planning to add “dozens” of familiar faces to its chatbot roster and even plans on creating a tool that will enable celebrities to make their own chatbots for their fans. This is good news, as I could finally talk to Beyonce.

How do you do, fellow kids? 

Meta is clearly putting a lot of time and effort into perfecting its chatbot game in the budding world of AI. We all remember Snapchat AI, which rose to fame for about a week and then quickly fizzled out into obscurity.  

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal reached out to former Snap and Instagram executive Meghana Dhar, who noted that chatbots don’t “scream Gen Z to me, but definitely, Gen Z is much more comfortable” with new technology. She also adds that Meta’s goal with the chatbots is likely to be to keep them engaged for longer so it has “increased opportunity to serve them ads.”

That would explain the rather random selection of ‘young people’ personas that Meta is going for. While Bender from Futurama is pretty recognizable, he’s not exactly a Gen Z icon. As someone from the demographic Meta seems to be targeting, it’s an extremely odd celebrity to slap onto your product, considering there’s a plethora of other (more relevant) personalities to choose from. 

The advantage Meta has in picking Gen Z as its target demographic is that Gen Z is very public about who they are super into right now. Meta could have picked literally anyone else, so hopefully the other personalities it has up its sleeve are a bit more … contemporary. 

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Desperate for dark mode with Microsoft’s Bing AI chatbot? It’s now here

Microsoft’s Bing chatbot and Bing search on desktop have just got dark mode, a feature that many folks have been keenly awaiting for some time.

Jordi Ribas, Microsoft’s CVP, Head of Engineering and Product for Bing, made the announcement on Twitter.

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As you can see, dark mode is rolling out over the next few days, so everyone should have it before the weekend.

Indeed, going by feedback to the tweet, many people are already using dark mode when chatting to the Bing AI (or using the Bing search website) on their desktop PC.

If you’re not sure whether you have the ability to turn on dark mode, just go to the Bing site, click the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines, top-right), and go to Appearance, where you’ll find light and dark modes (if available). There’s also an option to automatically use whatever system-wide choice you’ve made for the light or dark theme.

Analysis: Folks are over the dark side of the moon

This has happened earlier than expected, which is always good. Last week, we were told that dark mode was inbound for Bing AI (and search), but we were informed it would be here in a couple of weeks. It only took one week to appear, then, so Microsoft moved a bit faster than anticipated.

As you may recall, Bing AI also got the full rollout of Visual Search last week, so everyone now has that, too. This feature allows you to fling an image at the chatbot, and then get a reply imparting info on the pic (for example, if you have a picture of a historical building, Bing will tell you what – and where – it is).

You can combine that function with the chatbot’s image creation capabilities, too, and ask it to compose a similar image. (Say you’ve got a picture of a wolf in daylight, you could ask Bing to create something just like it, but at night with a full moon).

There’s an increasing amount of neat tricks that Bing AI can perform, though Google is speeding up its progress on Bard, too. The chatbot arms race is in full swing, for sure.

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Bing AI chatbot is about to get two much-wanted features

Bing AI is getting a couple of the most-wanted features folks have been badgering Microsoft for, with image search rolling out to everyone imminently, and dark mode shouldn’t be too far behind that.

These nuggets of info come from Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft’s head of Advertising and Web Services, who shared the details in a couple of tweets.

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We’re told that multimodal/image understanding is rolling out to everyone, meaning the ability to drop an image into the chatbot and have it identify the photo (whatever it may be – a famous building, for example).

Also known as Visual Search (or Bing Vision), Microsoft just penned a blog post on this noting that it’s “rolling out now for consumers on Bing desktop and the mobile app”.

As you can see from Parakhin’s tweet, Visual Search should be fully rolled out as of today, so you should see the feature later on at some point, if you don’t already.

In the replies to the above highlighted Twitter conversation, Parakhin further tweeted about a second piece of functionality for Bing AI that folks have been clamoring for with even greater eagerness than image searching, in some cases.

That would be dark mode, and we’re told that this capability should arrive for Bing AI in a “couple of weeks”, so hopefully pretty soon indeed.

Analysis: Dark times are coming – or maybe already here?

There has been a lot of prodding and poking of Microsoft about providing a dark mode for Bing AI, so it’s great to see this arrive. Interestingly, some users are already reporting that they have dark mode – so perhaps we can expect this very soon for the chatbot, hot on the heels of the full rollout of Visual Search.

Microsoft is making fast progress with its Bing AI, with various nifty bits of functionality coming in at a good pace. Another much-requested feature that’s due to arrive in the near future is a ‘no search’ option that’ll come in handy in certain situations. (This forces an answer direct from the AI, without it scraping data from the web as part of its reply to a query).

Bing AI needs Microsoft to continue driving forward, mind you, as Bard, the rival AI from Google, might have got off to a poor start, but it’s rapidly making up ground with new features now. With Bard set to get extensions brought into the mix soon, there may be some defectors to Google’s AI – something Microsoft will clearly be desperate to avoid.

However, what Microsoft needs to be careful about, of course, is annoying folks by doing its usual badgering tricks in Windows 11 to try and get people to use the AI (and other services for that matter).

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Bing AI chatbot gets faster at responding – and better sports knowledge, too

Microsoft has provided its regular weekly update on improvements for Bing AI, and there are some impressive strides forward this week.

Neowin spotted that the chatbot now has reduced latency spikes when it comes to certain answers, meaning you won’t be hanging around as long for a reply in these cases.

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As Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft’s head of Advertising and Web Services, explained on Twitter, this is a result of Bing AI getting a “completely reworked backend for inner monologue”, meaning streamlining the chatbot’s ‘thinking’ process.

A second benefit this week is better handling of sports-related queries, so the range of topics covered in this field is now considerably broader, from the NHL to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Finally, there’s a boon for those using Bing AI in Skype, with the ability to generate images (Bing Image Creator) now present within Skype conversations.

Analysis: The importance of being snappy

A snappier Bing AI is vital. Whatever query you throw at the chatbot, you want the response to come with a minimum of hanging around. If you find yourself tapping your foot (or perhaps your finger on the keyboard) while waiting for Bing to get back to you, that’ll be off-putting (and might remind you of live chats, where waits can be frustrating if a help agent is dealing with multiple simultaneous queries).

That responsiveness is a key area for Bing to do well in (that and, of course, the accuracy and usefulness of the response delivered, which is always paramount). So Microsoft is quite right to be honing away on this front.

That said, you can still be subject to waiting times that aren’t the fault of the backend (inner workings of Bing as it processes queries), but are purely due to traffic spikes. When lots of people are using the chatbot, things get more sluggish purely in terms of coping with that volume.

Incidentally, Parakhin elaborated on this in the above Twitter thread, noting that the major peaks of usage occur when folks arrive in work (at three main times – when the US East coast arrives, then when Europe comes to work, then the Far East). That corresponds to 7am, 5pm and 1am PDT, if you’re curious.

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Microsoft just made its Bing AI chatbot much better for iPhone owners

Microsoft’s Bing chatbot is now more readily accessible for iOS users thanks to a new widget, plus the AI has been bolstered to perform more responsively when using voice input on an iPhone.

Windows Central spotted that Microsoft has implemented a Bing Chat widget that can be added to the Home screen, allowing you to initiate a session with the chatbot with a simple tap. That’s a handy ability indeed for regular users of Bing AI on iOS devices.

For instructions on how to add a widget to the iPhone Home screen, check here.

In the Bing blog post announcing this new feature for iOS, Microsoft also tells us that it has made progress on another front for iPhone owners – namely better performance for the voice input button on the Bing mobile app (for iOS, and Android as well). When you tap the button it should now indicate that it’s listening instantly.

Analysis: Catching up with Android

The widget is a very useful touch in terms of convenience for regular users on the iPhone, and it brings the Bing Chat experience up to parity with the Android version (which already had this feature).

Overall, Microsoft’s setting a pretty fast pace of development with its Bing AI, as considerable progress is being made on a weekly basis, with both the mobile and desktop incarnations of the chatbot.

Regarding the latter, we’ve just seen that Microsoft has brought voice input to desktop PCs (previously this had been a mobile-only feature). The idea is to make for a more natural chatting experience with the Bing chatbot, allowing you to speak to the AI, and have it reply via spoken words, too.

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Microsoft makes Bing’s AI chatbot easier to talk to in Windows 11

Microsoft’s Bing AI just got a smart new feature, namely the ability to accept voice input on desktop PCs.

Voice input was already supported on mobiles, but now you can engage with the Bing chatbot asking queries via a microphone attached to your desktop PC. What’s more, the chatbot can reply with its own voice response (as Windows Central reports).

There are only a limited number of languages supported for voice input, mind you, at this stage. Those are as follows: English, French, German, Japanese and Mandarin.

We can doubtless expect more languages to be covered in the future, as Microsoft builds out this feature.

To use voice input, simply click the microphone icon in the Bing Chat box, and say your piece, then wait for the AI’s digitized voice response. The experience remains the same otherwise, as you might guess.

Analysis: Voice of the future

This is an important feature for the Bing AI, as it means that sessions with the chatbot feel like a more natural exchange – you’re talking, and the AI is replying with its voice. In other words, it’s more like a conversation than a search engine-like experience, which is Microsoft’s overall goal.

With the facility being on mobile already, it was only a matter of time before it was ported over for desktop users. More broadly, voice has been an area Microsoft has focused on considerably – witness the swift progress with Voice Access in Windows 11 in recent times (and in-line dictation in Microsoft Word, for that matter).

When Copilot lands in Windows 11 (supposedly testing will begin later in June), it’s easy to envisage that this infusion of AI will come with more voice-based controls, too.

However, the next big move for the Bing chatbot will be its introduction to other browsers besides Edge (with official support for Chrome and other major browsers inbound, as opposed to third-party plug-ins which are the only option currently).

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