Have you ever wondered what some of the emojis we use actually mean or represent? Like the blue spiral thing, what on earth is that supposed to be? Well now we can all find out. Microsoft recently rolled out support for searching with emojis on their search engine, Bing, which means users who do not want to type an entire word into the search box can search using emojis instead. For example, if I enter the top hat emoji in to Bing, the first search result I see is Wikipedia’s explanation of the top hat – pretty cool huh?
For those that are unfamiliar with emojis, they are small digital images or icons used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication. Originating from Japan, emojis are available on all Apple devices, most Android devices and on the Windows Phone.
Users can also search using a combination of emojis or even a combination of emojis and text. For example, a search using the sun emoji plus the glasses emoji brought up results for sun glasses and places where you can buy them. A search with the tent emoji and the word ‘Northampton’ led to results including Northamptonshire campsites and camping equipment in Northamptonshire.
As fun as all this sounds, emoji search only works fine on Bing mobile, probably because emojis are generally used on mobile devices instead of desktop browsers. For instance, on Google Chrome, emojis in fact show as little grey rectangles that are not recognised by the browser, although Bing still recognises what they represent, thus returning the appropriate results. Firefox, Internet Explorer and some other browsers show emojis fine though.
This emoji search isn’t the first time Microsoft has tried to get one step ahead of Google in finding new ways to make internet search different. For example, Microsoft also incorporated support for Bitcoin conversion, whilst Google remained stuck with standard currency conversions.
As fun and exclusive as Bing’s new search feature is, the world’s second largest search engine still has a long way to go to compete with Google. Bing only owns 18.7% of the search market share, which is second to Google’s staggering share of 67.6%. I think it’s going to take more than the emoji search for Bing to capture Google’s massive audience.
Oh and the blue spiral thing? Well according to Bing, that’s a hurricane.