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Bing sweetens image search with Pinterest boards

Microsoft is trying something with image search that Google hasn't yet done -- adding in human-curated photo collections.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
The results from a Bing image search for Norwegian Forest Cat. Pinterest pin boards are displayed on the right. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Here's a trick question: Who or what is better at collecting and curating photos -- people or computers?

For Microsoft's Bing, the answer is both.

The search engine announced Wednesday that it has partnered with Pinterest to bring photo pin boards to its image search function.

So, now, when users query "Norwegian Forest Cat," not only will they get the usual photo page of cute fuzzy kitties, they'll also get Pinterest collectors' boards on the right side of the screen. Who knew Norwegian Forest Cats generated such a following?

Here's a little more from a Bing blog post on the new feature:

At Bing image search, we're always trying to make it easier to find you the best pictures from around the web. We use cutting-edge computer vision, powerful filtering tools, and lots of computational horsepower to sift through billions of images every time you search.

But lately, we've noticed that the most interesting pictures on the web are being collected by people, not computers. On sites like Pinterest, passionate curators can build up a collection of ideas that shows off their unique style. We started to ask ourselves, what if we could have the best of both worlds, combining the power of algorithms with the taste and judgment of real people.

Microsoft has been doggedly working to gain market share for its Bing search engine over the past couple of years. While it still has a long way to dethrone Google, it has steadily gained US market share since 2010. In addition to adding Pinterest boards to image search, Bing also boosted its video search function last month and improved its overall image search feature in August.