What are Azure Cognitive Services?

Azure Cognitive Services are cloud-based services with REST APIs and client library SDKs available to help you build cognitive intelligence into your applications. You can add cognitive features to your applications without having artificial intelligence (AI) or data science skills. Azure Cognitive Services comprise various AI services that enable you to build cognitive solutions that can see, hear, speak, understand, and even make decisions.

Categories of Cognitive Services

The catalog of cognitive services that provide cognitive understanding is categorized into five main pillars:

  • Vision
  • Speech
  • Language
  • Decision

The following sections in this article provide a list of services that are part of these five pillars.

Vision APIs

Service Name Service Description
Computer Vision The Computer Vision service provides you with access to advanced cognitive algorithms for processing images and returning information. See Computer Vision quickstart to get started with the service.
Custom Vision Service The Custom Vision Service lets you build, deploy, and improve your own image classifiers. An image classifier is an AI service that applies labels to images, based on their visual characteristics.
Face The Face service provides access to advanced face algorithms, enabling face attribute detection and recognition. See Face quickstart to get started with the service.

Speech APIs

Service Name Service Description
Speech service Speech service adds speech-enabled features to applications. Speech service includes various capabilities like speech-to-text, text-to-speech, speech translation, and many more.

Language APIs

Service Name Service Description
Azure Cognitive Service for language Azure Cognitive Service for Language provides several Natural Language Processing (NLP) features for understanding and analyzing text.
Language Understanding LUIS Language Understanding (LUIS) is a cloud-based conversational AI service that applies custom machine-learning intelligence to a user's conversational, natural language text to predict overall meaning, and pull out relevant, detailed information. See LUIS quickstart to get started with the service.
QnA Maker QnA Maker allows you to build a question and answer service from your semi-structured content. See QnA Maker quickstart to get started with the service.
Translator Translator provides machine-based text translation in near real-time.

Decision APIs

Service Name Service Description
Anomaly Detector Anomaly Detector allows you to monitor and detect abnormalities in your time series data. See Anomaly Detector quickstart to get started with the service.
Content Moderator Content Moderator provides monitoring for possible offensive, undesirable, and risky content. See Content Moderator quickstart to get started with the service.
Personalizer Personalizer allows you to choose the best experience to show to your users, learning from their real-time behavior. See Personalizer quickstart to get started with the service.

Get started with Cognitive Services

Start by creating a Cognitive Services resource with hands-on quickstarts using the following methods:

Using Cognitive Services in different development environments

With Azure and Cognitive Services, you have access to several development options, such as:

  • Automation and integration tools like Logic Apps and Power Automate.
  • Deployment options such as Azure Functions and the App Service.
  • Cognitive Services Docker containers for secure access.
  • Tools like Apache Spark, Azure Databricks, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Azure Kubernetes Service for Big Data scenarios.

To learn more, see Cognitive Services development options.

Using Cognitive Services securely

Azure Cognitive Services provides a layered security model, including authentication via Azure Active Directory credentials, a valid resource key, and Azure Virtual Networks.

Containers for Cognitive Services

Azure Cognitive Services provides several Docker containers that let you use the same APIs that are available in Azure, on-premises. Using these containers gives you the flexibility to bring Cognitive Services closer to your data for compliance, security or other operational reasons. Learn more about Cognitive Services Containers.

Regional availability

The APIs in Cognitive Services are hosted on a growing network of Microsoft-managed data centers. You can find the regional availability for each API in Azure region list.

Looking for a region we don't support yet? Let us know by filing a feature request on our UserVoice forum.

Supported cultural languages

Cognitive Services supports a wide range of cultural languages at the service level. You can find the language availability for each API in the supported languages list.

Certifications and compliance

Cognitive Services has been awarded certifications such as CSA STAR Certification, FedRAMP Moderate, and HIPAA BAA. You can download certifications for your own audits and security reviews.

To understand privacy and data management, go to the Trust Center.


Cognitive Services provides several support options to help you move forward with creating intelligent applications. Cognitive Services also has a strong community of developers that can help answer your specific questions. For a full list of options available to you, see Cognitive Services support and help options.

Next steps