OpenAI recently added an internet search capability to the mobile version of their ChatGPT app. The new feature is called Browsing and uses Microsoft’s Bing to search the web. For now, it’s only available to ChatGPT Plus users that currently have to pay a $20 per month subscription. The ChatGPT mobile app is also only available for iOS devices with an Android app apparently “coming soon”.
In March 2023 OpenAI started a phased release of the Browsing search function in a few limited APIs and their desktop interface of ChatGPT. This was their first step in letting ChatGPT loose on the internet instead of just relying on the pre-September 2021 data the model was trained on.
With this latest announcement users of the mobile app can now use the web search function on their iOS devices and get up-to-date search results. ChatGPT’s Browsing is great at processing search results but doesn’t have its own search capability. That’s where Bing comes in.
Bing powers ChatGPT’s Browsing – Is that a good thing?
If you’ve used Bing’s search engine then you’ve probably also tried out their built-in Bing GPT chat search option. For the most part, it works quite well, albeit with shorter responses than you get using the ChatGPT app.
With Browsing you now get the more comprehensive responses you pay for as a ChatGPT Plus user, coupled with the search power of Bing on your mobile device. The responses may be more comprehensive and up-to-date, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more helpful.
Bing has been criticized for the disproportionate amount of misinformation it serves up in its search results compared to Google. Stanford’s Internet Observatory reported that Bing delivered 125 sources of disinformation compared to Google’s 13 in one search experiment.
So, if you decide to try out Browsing then just understand that your mileage may vary. Between the poor filters that GPT-4 and Bing have for disinformation, you may not want to rely on Browsing to find out if the earth really is flat or if vaccines work or not.
It works really well for less contentious queries though. Being able to use natural language to find out what movies are playing at your local theater or what the latest score is in the game you’re following is handy.
If you’re already a ChatGPT Plus user and use Apple devices then it’s worth downloading the app and trying it out. Go to the “New Features” section in the app settings, switch the model to GPT-4, and then choose the “Browse with Bing” option.
Microsoft has said it will make a Bing plugin for ChatGPT available soon. So even if you’re not a ChatGPT Plus subscriber you should be able to try this feature out for free soon.