Microsoft’s new and improved Bing search engine is getting a lot of attention (for both good and bad reasons) thanks to the inclusion of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot. And with the AI-powered Bing now appearing on some users’ phones, it looks like it will be rolling out to Android and iPhone smartphones as well.
While there will be a lot of smartphone users looking forward to trying out the ChatGPT powered Bing after all the hype, I’m not sure it’s a good idea.
That’s because despite ChatGPT’s exciting potential, its inclusion in Bing has exposed some serious shortcomings of the AI chatbot. Many users have found ways to get weird results, including the AI worrying about its memory and becoming mildly aggressive towards users when its incorrect statements are challenged.
The fact that it returns incorrect statements is also concerning, as it is supposed to be an authority that users can trust. And then there’s the disturbing news that it’s also used offensive language – obviously ChatGPT isn’t ready for primetime yet, so putting it in a major service like Bing is a big risk.
However, Microsoft doesn’t think so, or doesn’t care.
While some of ChatGPT’s more concerning glitches and quirks have been hastily fixed in Bing by Microsoft, such as limiting the chatbot to just five responses, rather than allowing conversations to continue (and get weirder and weirder), there’s still there’s work to be done. In fact, even the measures Microsoft has implemented are criticized for being too heavy-handed and now making the new Bing less interesting to use.
With these kinds of early issues, you’d expect the company to pause the rollout until they’re fixed. However, it seems that Microsoft is eager to keep pushing the new Bing, with MSPoweruser (opens in new tab) are reporting that some users who have signed up to test early versions of the Bing mobile app (and the Edge web browser app) are starting to see the new AI-powered Bing interface appear.
Screenshots have emerged showing what the new Bing will look like for those with Android or iPhone smartphones, but at the moment the ChatGPT functionality doesn’t seem to work.
Still, these screenshots suggest that Microsoft is continuing its efforts to get the new Bing to as many people as possible – and that’s a terrible idea.
Not too late to change your mind, AI powered or not
I can see why Microsoft is keen to continue pushing the new Bing. Since its announcement at an event in early February 2023, there’s been a buzz around Microsoft’s unloved search engine that I haven’t seen before.
Instead of being constantly overshadowed by the much more popular Google, people were suddenly talking about checking out Bing. It even led to the Bing app being a rare sight on the Apple App Store charts.
So it makes sense that Microsoft would want to maintain this momentum and bring the new Bing to mobile phone users, especially since most web searches are now done on a mobile device (opens in new tab)instead of a desktop PC or laptop.
However, this can do more harm than good. If Microsoft brings the new Bing to mobile users soon and it doesn’t work properly, it could put people off trying the search engine again, especially for people who haven’t tried Bing before.
First impressions count, and if the new Bing makes a bad impression, Microsoft could alienate a potentially huge market. By waiting for Bing, powered by ChatGPT, to work perfectly, Microsoft might be missing out on some of the existing excitement, but it does mean that people’s experiences with it will be much better.
Since the mobile version hasn’t been rolled out to users yet, Microsoft still has time to slam the brakes and get it right. If not, you may regret it.