Bing launches bots for local businesses

Bots are coming to Bing in a big way. Through its Bot Framework, Microsoft is starting to integrate chatbots into search results — to make search more interactive and transactional.
In April, Matt McGee spotted the appearance of chat functionality for selected Seattle-area restaurants. That is now rolling out officially (still only to restaurants) through Bing Places and the newly launched Business Bot program. Microsoft will automatically create a bot from the data in Bing Places.
The business doesn’t need to do anything technical. It just answers a few structured questions and accepts the bot agreement terms. Thereafter, when users search for the business, a screen like the following will appear:

Users can then get basic questions about the business answered through the bot (e.g., “do you have outdoor seating?”). If there’s a question it can’t answer, the bot will refer the user to a phone number.
The bot can also ask business owners additional questions, depending on what information users are seeking. The new

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Bing UK now displaying National Health Service data for GP & hospital search queries

According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the publicly-funded national healthcare system has been working with Bing UK during the last year to improve search results for general practitioner and hospital queries.
“Over the last year, we have collaborated with our friends at Bing to provide users with a comprehensive GP and hospital search experience,” reports a recent post on the NHS Choices blog.
The NHS says that queries for “GP in [location]” on Bing UK will now surface a list of local options with information on specific locations, open times and user reviews – all data that has been pulled from the NHS.

Clicking on a result will display more information for the GP’s office.
The post Bing UK now displaying National Health Service data for GP & hospital search queries appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Bing local search update highlights business holiday hours in local listings

Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, Bing announced it was helping business owners display the correct hours of operation via their local search listing on Bing.
From the Bing Search Blog: “Bing local is collaborating with business owners and trusted partners to get accurate holiday hours in real time. When you search for local businesses, you’ll receive up-to-date changes for holiday hours.”
Bing included the following image to highlight how holiday hours will be displayed for local listings:

The updates rolled out for both desktop and mobile on November 23 and will be available for all future holidays, according to Bing.
The post Bing local search update highlights business holiday hours in local listings appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Bing search app for iOS & Android gets new music, video & map features

Bing has released new updates to its search app for iOS and Android, adding new music and video features, along with more map options.
The updated version 6.7.2 Bing search app will now play a video without sound directly in search results with the lyrics listed below the video — a feature that has been available on Bing desktop. The app also includes a new Music page listing trending songs and artists.

According to a report on the Android Community website, Bing’s search app can also give the title to a song being played: “In case you’re looking for a specific song, you can use the Bing Search app by typing the name of the song or if something is playing, it will tell you what it is.”
In addition to updates around music, users can add movie titles to their Netflix and Amazon Prime watch lists from the app’s Movies page.
Bing has also added the option for users to

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Mount McKinley Becomes Mt. Denali On Google Maps; Bing Stays With Old Name

Denali in 1996, by Danny Sullivan
North America’s highest mountain has been restored to its native name of Denali, as announced by US President Barack Obama. The peak had been known as Mount McKinley since 1917.
The move has sparked some political debate, especially among Ohioan politicians who view it as a slight against Ohio native William McKinley, who was the 25th president of the United States. Alaskan politicians had been pushing for the change.
I was curious how quickly our major search engines may have changed the name on their mapping services. As it turns out, Google’s already switched over:

On Google Maps, the peak is listed as “Mt Denali.” A search for the official name of “Denali” won’t find it, but “Mount Denali,” “Mt Denali” and even “Mount McKinley” will.
On Bing Maps, it’s still the old name that appears:

A search for “Mt Denali” will find the mountain but shows the Mount McKinley name. “Mount McKinley” also finds it. “Denali” brings

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Cortana For Android Is Officially Available For Download In US Beta

A month ago Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana became available for download in a pre-beta release. Now an official US beta version of Cortana for Android is here. An iOS version is coming soon.
The full Cortana experience and functionality are available to Windows 10 and Windows Phone users. But because Cortana for Android doesn’t access your email or read your calendar it can’t deliver the same depth of functionality and features on Android. Nonetheless I was able to use Cortana in its beta form today for a wide range of tasks:

As a voice-enabled search engine for web queries
To initiate texts and calls with voice
Set alarms
Create reminders
Create meeting and calendar entries
Get driving directions (it uses Google Maps)
Conduct local searches near me (this was a standout feature)

From a technical standpoint I don’t know what prevents Cortana currently from reading my email (Gmail) or Google Calendar. On the iPhone I actually rely more heavily on the Outlook mail app, which presumably

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Report: Nokia Sells HERE Maps For $2.7B To BMW, Mercedes, Audi Group

According to Bloomberg and CNBC, Nokia has found a buyer for its HERE mapping unit. The company had sought as much as $4 billion for the platform. However, the reported purchase price is roughly $2.7 billion (€2.5 billion).
The winning (and perhaps only) bid was made by a German consortium of car manufacturers, which had always been reported among the interested parties. It includes BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
In a way, their effort to acquire the platform was defensive. The car companies use HERE Maps in their in-dash navigation systems, and they recognize mapping and navigation as a strategic asset for further development of self-driving cars.
HERE is the rebranded NAVTEQ, which Nokia bought in 2007 for more than $8 billion. Other companies that had been rumored to be involved in the bidding for HERE included Uber (which acquired some Microsoft mapping assets) and several Chinese companies. Yet it appeared that Nokia was struggling to sell the asset, which could explain the reduced purchase

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