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 are categorized into five main pillars:

  • Vision
  • Speech
  • Language
  • Decision
  • Search

The following sections in this article provides 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.
Custom Vision Service The Custom Vision Service allows you to build custom image classifiers.
Face The Face service provides access to advanced face algorithms, enabling face attribute detection and recognition.
Form Recognizer Form Recognizer identifies and extracts key-value pairs and table data from form documents; then outputs structured data including the relationships in the original file.
Ink Recognizer (Retiring) Ink Recognizer allows you to recognize and analyze digital ink stroke data, shapes and handwritten content, and output a document structure with all recognized entities.
Video Indexer Video Indexer enables you to extract insights from your video.

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
Language Understanding LUIS Language Understanding service (LUIS) allows your application to understand what a person wants in their own words.
QnA Maker QnA Maker allows you to build a question and answer service from your semi-structured content.
Text Analytics Text Analytics provides natural language processing over raw text for sentiment analysis, key phrase extraction, and language detection.
Translator Translator provides machine-based text translation in near real-time.
Immersive Reader Immersive Reader adds screen reading and comprehension capabilities to your applications.

Decision APIs

Service Name Service Description
Anomaly Detector Anomaly Detector allows you to monitor and detect abnormalities in your time series data.
Content Moderator Content Moderator provides monitoring for possible offensive, undesirable, and risky content.
Metrics Advisor (Preview) Metrics Advisor provides customizable anomaly detection on multi-variate time series data, and a fully featured web portal to help you use the service.
Personalizer Personalizer allows you to choose the best experience to show to your users, learning from their real-time behavior.

Search APIs


Looking for Azure Cognitive Search? Although it uses Cognitive Services for some tasks, it's a different search technology that supports other scenarios.

Service Name Service Description
Bing News Search Bing News Search returns a list of news articles determined to be relevant to the user's query.
Bing Video Search Bing Video Search returns a list of videos determined to be relevant to the user's query.
Bing Web Search Bing Web Search returns a list of search results determined to be relevant to the user's query.
Bing Autosuggest Bing Autosuggest allows you to send a partial search query term to Bing and get back a list of suggested queries.
Bing Custom Search Bing Custom Search allows you to create tailored search experiences for topics that you care about.
Bing Entity Search Bing Entity Search returns information about entities that Bing determines are relevant to a user's query.
Bing Image Search Bing Image Search returns a display of images determined to be relevant to the user's query.
Bing Visual Search Bing Visual Search provides returns insights about an image such as visually similar images, shopping sources for products found in the image, and related searches.
Bing Local Business Search Bing Local Business Search API enables your applications to find contact and location information about local businesses based on search queries.
Bing Spell Check Bing Spell Check allows you to perform contextual grammar and spell checking.

Development options

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.

Learn with the Quickstarts

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

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

Cognitive Services provides containers for deployment in the Azure cloud or on-premises. 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