ChatGPT on mobile devices can now “surf” the Internet. But only through Bing. OpenAI has announced that subscribers to ChatGPT Plus, the premium version of their artificial intelligence (AI)-based chatbot, can use a new feature in the ChatGPT app called Browsing to ask ChatGPT to search for answers to questions in Bing. Browsing can be enabled by going to the New Features section of the app settings, selecting “GPT-4” in the model switcher, and selecting “Browse with Bing” from the drop-down list. Browsing is available on both iOS and Android.
OpenAI says that Browsing is especially useful for queries related to current events and other information that are “beyond ChatGPT’s baseline for learning. When Browsing is disabled, ChatGPT’s knowledge ends in 2021. Browsing — which Microsoft and OpenAI had previously announced would appear this year, first on the Internet — certainly makes ChatGPT a more useful assistant, especially for research. Before that, asking ChatGPT questions like “Who won the March Madness 2023 women’s tournament?” wouldn’t have done anything particularly useful – or right.
But Bing’s limitation of ChatGPT’s search capabilities seems almost hostile to the user. The business motives are obvious – OpenAI has a close partnership with Microsoft, which has invested more than $10 billion in the startup – but Bing is far from the only search engine. Back in 2011, an analysis showed that Bing potentially unfairly produced more results related to Microsoft than Google links. A recent Stanford study showed evidence that Bing’s top search results contain an “alarming” amount of misinformation. Microsoft undoubtedly continues to improve Bing’s algorithms on the backend. But the problem with the new Browsing ChatGPT feature is that when Bing inevitably goes wrong, users will have no choice. In other, less controversial news in the ChatGPT app, clicking on a search result now takes you directly to the appropriate point in the conversation. This change — along with Browsing — will be rolling out this week, OpenAI says.