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Bing Chat could be the Surface Duo 3's killer app
Microsoft’s Bing search engine used to be a punchline in the tech industry, thought of as nothing more than a ho-hum alternative to Google Search. That changed in February, when Microsoft revealed Bing Chat.
Bing Chat is an AI chatbot powered by the GPT-4 model, which is the same tech that powers the popular ChatGPT AI chatbot. The feature allows you to pose all sorts of web queries using natural language, drilling down even deeper than current voice assistants. Needless to say, Microsoft has an impressive weapon in its tech arsenal. And this Bing Chat could be the killer app for the company’s upcoming Surface Duo 3.
Surface Duo: Innovative but flawed
Microsoft first launched the Duo line in 2020 with the original Surface Duo, then followed up with the Surface Duo 2 in 2021. These mobile devices (don’t call them phones) differed from typical foldables by offering two separate screens instead of one folding display. And that was only the start of the quirkiness.
Microsoft’s devices brought some interesting software ideas, such as dragging and dropping content between screens, spanning one app across two screens (such as the Kindle app displaying a page on each screen), and app pairs that simultaneously launch two distinct apps on each screen. Unfortunately, the two Surface Duo devices were incredibly buggy at their respective launches. And the company’s attempts to fix things seemed too little, too late.
The Surface Duo line brought innovation to the table, but a Duo 3 model needs an extra push.
Microsoft is reportedly back in the saddle with the Surface Duo 3, and it’s believed this new device will offer a single folding screen like other foldables. This is perhaps a tacit omission that the dual-screen form factor wasn’t a proper game changer. But a Surface Duo 3 with a folding screen will be going up against growing competition in the global foldable market. The likes of Honor and TECNO have also launched foldables, while OnePlus and Google are also expected to join in on the fun later this year. This is in addition to Samsung’s all-conquering foldables, which are basically unofficial Microsoft foldables in some ways already.
Furthermore, previously unique Surface Duo features like app pairs and drag-and-drop functionality are fairly common on foldable phones in 2023. So Microsoft will need to bring more innovative features if it wants the Surface Duo 3 to stand out from a sea of pretenders to Samsung’s throne. Fortunately, that’s where Bing Chat could come in.
How Bing Chat could make a difference on the Surface Duo 3
Although relatively new, the Bing app’s new Bing Chat beats Google Assistant in several areas according to our tests. Our own Calvin Wankhede noted that Bing Chat doesn’t require queries to be phrased in a specific manner (unlike Assistant), while also being able to account for spelling or text errors. Calvin even wrote that Microsoft’s tool was able to offer helpful recipe advice about a substituted ingredient whereas Google Assistant yielded a dead-end. Your mileage might vary, and Google is still working on its Bard chatbot, but it’s evident that Bing Chat is more advanced than the current Google Assistant.
Microsoft also has an opportunity to bring even more features to Bing Chat on the Surface Duo 3. Perhaps the biggest omission is the lack of support for hardware controls, as Bing Chat is unable to do things like toggle system settings (e.g. switch to vibrate) and text/call someone. We’d love to see this functionality rolled into the Bing chatbot and, in fact, we wouldn’t mind seeing the chatbot as a whole come to Microsoft’s Swiftkey keyboard, allowing us to call upon it in any app. Imagine having the power of a conversational AI at your beck and call during any chat.
Bing Chat is more adept at understanding queries than Google Assistant, but Microsoft can still make it better on a Surface Duo 3.
Another essential feature for a super-powered Bing Chat on the Surface Duo 3 would be smart home controls. After all, the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa both support smart home commands. So if Microsoft truly wants people to drop Google and Amazon’s assistants, it needs to catch up with their giant head-start. Hopefully, the new Matter standard and natural language communication could help somewhat narrow the gap.
Finally, another ambitious goal for Bing Chat on a new Surface Duo is some offline functionality. Much like Google Assistant, this could be limited to a few preset commands, so you can still make some local queries in areas of poor network coverage.
What else could Microsoft offer on a Surface Duo 3?
A more powerful Bing Chat could go a long way to making sure that the Surface Duo 3 stands out among upcoming foldables. But there’s nothing stopping Microsoft from bringing an improved version of Bing to previous Duo models too.
Otherwise, Microsoft could also implement its recently announced Office 365 AI Copilot to the Surface Duo 3 too, allowing users to quickly create slideshows, charts, document templates, craft professional emails, and harness the entire power of Office with a few quick prompts. This makes even more sense on a portable device with a small screen; the less fiddling the better. Combine these capabilities with a desktop mode and you’ve got an unbeatable proposition for businesses.
Finally, a Surface Duo 3 would also be an opportunity for Microsoft to bring native PC integration to the table. This way, you could have features like file transfers, texting/calling on PC, and more without having to download additional apps.
Either way, an enhanced version of Bing Chat for Surface Duo devices would go a long way to making Microsoft’s mobile hardware stand out from the rising sea of foldable competitors out there.