updated 05:37 am EST, Fri February 1, 2013
Bing apps for Office 2013 extend functionality through the web
Microsoft has launched five Bing apps for the just-released Office 2013. Each of the new apps integrates tightly with Office in order to add a range of useful functions to each of Microsoft's core Office apps. The new Bing apps for Office includes Image Search, Finance, Maps, Dictionary, and News with each leveraging Bing's search capabilities.
Bing Image Search plugs in to Word and creates a task pane that allows users to search the web from within a current document. A search can be achieved by simply highlighting text from within the document, or by entering a word into the search box. It will allow users to filter images based on size, color, type, layout, and people. The selected image will then place itself where the cursor is located in the document.
Bing Finance is currently in beta, but will add a task pane to Excel. It will allow users to build a finance portfolio table in Excel. Users can type in their stock symbols and select a range of data columns including current price for their table. The app allows users to refresh the table with latest data values as well as provide additional information like price chart and news for selected stocks.
Bing Maps can take location data from a selected column in Excel and plot it on a Bing map. When the app is launched, it inserts a default map into a spreadsheet. Mapping tools can be used to pin data in specific locations on the map, while also allowing a user to navigate the map based on where the pins have been located.
Bing Dictionary will work with both Excel and Word. Presently, it only works in English, but will allow users to input words as they sound. It will also present users with 'wild cards' that can suggest letters, words or phrases to further enhance a document. Microsoft calls it a 'next generation English language assistant' that builds on its Microsoft Research Engkoo project.
Bing News is designed to extend the functionality of Word by allowing users to quickly locate news and related videos based on the content of the document currently being edited. This can be achieved simply by selecting text, which automatically generates a search, though this can be switched off. Results are displayed as Best Match, Current and Videos.
All of the apps are available for download now and a free to install following the purchase of Office 2013.