Everything You Need to Know About Azure Cognitive Services

Everything you need to know about Azure cognitive services
Azure cognitive services

Everything You Need to Know About Azure Cognitive Services

Microsoft’s cloud service provider Azure has helped several businesses cut back on the costs and expand while storing and hosting their data on a traditional server. The platform has made it possible for developers to manage, create, and deploy applications that assist cloud customers to perform different tasks. Azure provides text sentiment analysis, Bing ad-free image search, and handwriting recognition to text amongst other services.

What Exactly are Azure Cognitive Services?

What exactly are Azure cognitive services?
Everything you need to know about Azure cognitive services

Azure cognitive services are cloud-based services with Client library SDKs and REST APIs to help you design cognitive intelligence into the applications. Azure cognitive services allow users to add cognitive features to their applications without the need for artificial intelligence or possessing any data science skills. Azure cognitive services utilize different AI services that provide cognitive solutions that can hear, see, understand make decisions, and even speak

Cognitive Services Categories

The cognitive services provided by Azure are divided into five main categories:

  • Speech
  • Vision
  • Search
  • Decision
  • Language

We will explore the main categories including a few other ones available to the users.


This category involves an application that is able to analyze and identify content within images and videos. Azure is one of the leaders of cloud innovation that provide machine learning and artificial intelligence. The provider has been able to diversify to accommodate different needs. Below are the most important services provided in the vision category.

Analyzing Image

This service enables the user to classify and analyze visual components found in an image. The API can be tested on Microsoft Azure’s website for free and uses several domain-based models to describe a picture in the world.  For example, it can tell you what content the image contains like the dimensions, faces, whether it’s adult content or not, and format. It can also identify foreground/ background dominant colors. 

Tags are employed to tell users what the AI can see in the image. If there is a picture of people waiting at a bus stand or a subway station, the AI is going to use tags like “standing”, “bus”, “subway” “waiting for the bus” and so on.

Recognizing Handwriting

Some writing styles are difficult to understand. Azure’s optical character reading can help users understand handwriting that is difficult to understand. This tool makes use of ML and AI to extract, detect, and reproduce any type of writing.  For now, the service is in English but it has the ability to work with all types of materials such as plain paper, blackboards, or sticky notes

Landmark and Celebrity Recognition 

It can be frustrating trying to tap into your memory to find the name of a landmark you saw years ago or a celebrity you saw in a movie. Azure cognitive services can easily recognize services and celebrities by using a vast database that spans various fields such as sports, entertainment, business, politics, and so on. Moreover, the database includes around 9000 natural and man-made landmarks. 

Reading Text

This app takes advantage of the OCR and detects English text written on an image. It transforms into characters the AI can read. If you want to ID an embedded text anywhere Azure cognitive services will prove useful.

Analyzing Videos

Azure cognitive services tool has the ability to strip a particular video frame-by-frame and provides a text-based description. For example, if there is a video of a man walking with his girlfriend on the streets, the text description would be “streets”, “man”, “woman”, or “outdoors”.


This is the second category of Azure cognitive services. It deals with natural speech recognition engines. Users who are familiar with Dragon Naturally Speaking, Sonix, Braina, or Windows’ Speech Recognition, know about the issues with integrating speech recognition software in the workflow. Microsoft Azure offers users AI-based services such as TTS and STT. These two tools are far more accurate than other non-AI tools. Here are some of the most essential speech services.

Speech-to-text and Speed Recognition Transcriptions

The speech engine allows the user to formulate user-tailored language models. Regardless of geography, a technical term, or speech style the app recognizes everything the users say and then transcribes the text. 


Azure’s service uses an advanced acoustic model to read the text out loud for the user. As soon as the user starts typing text, the service will read it back.  This is service is mostly for those with impaired hearing, but it can also be used to proofread texts. 


Now you don’t have to use Google Translate or other real-time translation app or software. Azure’s translation app interprets text with exceptional accuracy, regardless of the language. The app primarily supports US and UK languages but more will be added soon. 

Speaker Verification

Sometimes the need for safety and security calls for innovative measures. Even though voice ID is not a new concept and the idea has been around for over two decades, it has been visited, abandoned and revisited a number of times because of low-security. 

The combination of ML and AI capabilities, speech recognition, and speech verification work by recognizing the logged speaker right away. Moreover, the service can identify the speaker even if someone with a similar voice tries to log into an account. 

Text Analytics

The most interesting tool provided by Azure’s language services is Text Analytics API. This allows the user to interpret and analyze a text-based on language, interlinking, sentiment, and key phrases. For example, if a piece of text says “ I had an amazing time in London and took plenty of photos” API will describe the text as written in English due to the language accuracy recognition capability which will  hone in on key phrases or tags such as “London”, Photos”, “an amazing time.” It will also provide links to famous landmarks in London. 


Context-based meaning and language are two of the most important attributes of communication. Azure possesses a wide variety of tools that are capable of interpreting and analyzing large chunks of text. 

Spell Check

A spell check can make all the difference in the world when you are quickly typing text.  You don’t have to go through the tedious process of searching on Google to look for spelling. A spelling can help you land your dream job or get mocked by a recruiter if it is incorrect. A proofreading tool is essential when it comes to writing something. Bing spell-check takes its job of spell checking seriously. It covers capitalizations, grammatical errors, punctuation, and style

Translator Text

The translator service combines instant language recognition with neural machine translation to offer the user a fully integrated translation platform. A few features of Azure API include alternative translations seeker with updated bilingual dictionaries, a personalized UI, transliteration, and offline support. 


For those who want to create a forum or social platform, a moderation tool is key. Azure’s content moderation tool covers text, view, and images. Although AI does most of the work, a human handler is still needed to ensure things go smoothly. In other words, moderation filters may need adjusting, or there may be a need to make exceptions, tweak the services, and so on. 

Q&A Maker

Azure’s Q&A can bring up a database in no time. For example, if you type in a question “How to log in?” You will receive the answer immediately with the instructions. The service also has the capability to find matching questions like a question similar to “how to log in?” would be “how to type this word?”

A website creator can easily use this tool to construct a detailed FAQ section without spending too much time on it. Azure’s Q&A generator can also take into account the line of inquiry of the user and then use the best section of the website to answer the questions. 


Azure cognitive services offer the most accurate and comprehensive database search and creation tools in the market. It has the knowledge a user needs and no matter what the question is, it will go to great lengths to find the answers.


This is another category of Azure’s cognitive services offered by Microsoft. It deals with what the users search for online. Although Bing is not as popular as Google, it boasts powerful and effective AI-powered algorithms that help with comparing results, searching, and bringing up results relevant to a user’s inquiry. 

Custom Search

When you search for something online, sometimes a simple search doesn’t give you what you want. There are times you want to dig deeper into the web to look for answers. You could easily try upping the game by using Bing Search API’S custom search. It will add a few new configurations and help you narrow down the search. For example, if you have written a keyword or a key phrase, a box will appear at the top of the search bar. In that bar, you’d be able to access different domains such as Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Official, Azure homepage, and so on. Depending on what you choose the results will get filtered. You can also adjust the safe search. 

Bing Web Search

This service can help the user get the most accurate and relevant results based on their search string. On the user’s display, there will be an assortment of videos, images, text, and more, all related to their search string. They can apply more filters to customize the search like freshness, market, safe search, and more

Video Search

A lot of people search for videos or song clips that got stuck in their heads. Azure cognitive service helps the user find the song they are searching for in a matter of minutes. The Bing video search is an excellent tool that provides information on the format, view count, and anything related to the creator. For instance, if you are looking for David Bowie simply type the name into the search bar and if need be, further refine the search according to the freshness, video length, video resolution, safe search on or off and market. 

Image Search

Bing image search works exactly the same way video search works. Instead of a video if you want to let’s say search for an abstract image you saw on your desktop, you can type the keywords “desktop background abstract” and you will be provided with various examples of images to help you narrow down the search. For example, image search could offer similar desktop backgrounds or other options that you could choose from like sceneries, celebrations, cute animals, sunsets, and more. 

The search for the image can be refined using the many filters offered by Bing such as the image type- clip art, line, photo, animated, GIF, safe search on or off, color-blue, black, green, gray, orange, etc., freshness, license- share commercially, modify commercially, modify, share, public, size and so on. 

News Search

The very last item on the category of Azure search is Bing news search API V7. It is a news-oriented platform that allows the user to bring up information on topics they are interested in. It uses the same data interpreting and processing algorithms used by video and image search. As for the operational part, when a user enters a keyword, the platform will provide various context-based examples. As with the previous search platforms the user can narrow down the search by using the filters such as freshness, safe search, and market. 

Additional Azure Cognitive Services

Anomaly Detection

Azure is perhaps the only platform that offers an AI service that can be set to measure, detect, and flag anomalies. For example, the items in the production line of the factory can be measured via size, colors, weight, and so on. The items that appear to be irregular can be flagged using AI. 

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Microsoft Azure services offer different types of cognitive AI-powered services. Each service is created to accommodate various needs such as knowledge, speech recognition, image analysis, face recognition, image, and video search. Azure’s biggest asset is its ability to integrate. All the services will fit in the user’s platform without requiring any additional tweaking. Implementing AI solutions that have cognitive abilities have been difficult over the past few decades. It had been complicated. Now, with easy access and rapid growth, it is used by all industries. Many businesses and top companies are using AI to be competitive by enhancing productivity and customer experience.