What are Azure Cognitive Services?

Azure Cognitive Services are cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) services that help developers build cognitive intelligence into applications without having direct AI or data science skills or knowledge. They are available through REST APIs and client library SDKs in popular development languages. Azure Cognitive Services enables developers to easily add cognitive features into their applications with cognitive solutions that can see, hear, speak, and analyze.

Categories of Cognitive Services

Cognitive Services can be categorized into five main areas:

  • Vision
  • Speech
  • Language
  • Decision
  • Azure OpenAI Service

See the tables below to learn about the services offered within those categories.

Vision APIs

Service Name Service Description Quickstart
Computer Vision The Computer Vision service provides you with access to advanced cognitive algorithms for processing images and returning information. Computer Vision quickstart
Custom Vision 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. Custom Vision quickstart
Face The Face service provides access to advanced face algorithms, enabling face attribute detection and recognition. Face quickstart

Speech APIs

Service Name Service Description Quickstart
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. Go to the Speech documentation to choose a subservice quickstart.

Language APIs

Service Name Service Description Quickstart
Language service Azure Language service provides several Natural Language Processing (NLP) features to understand and analyze text. Go to the Language documentation to choose a subservice quickstart.
Translator Translator provides machine-based text translation in near real time. Translator quickstart
Language Understanding LUIS Language Understanding (LUIS) is a cloud-based conversational AI service that applies custom machine-learning intelligence to a user's conversational or natural language text to predict overall meaning and pull out relevant information. LUIS quickstart
QnA Maker QnA Maker allows you to build a question and answer service from your semi-structured content. QnA Maker quickstart

Decision APIs

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

Azure OpenAI

Service Name Service Description Quickstart
Azure OpenAI Powerful language models including the GPT-3, Codex and Embeddings model series for content generation, summarization, semantic search, and natural language to code translation. Azure OpenAI quickstart

Create a Cognitive Services resource

You can create a Cognitive Services resource with hands-on quickstarts using any of the following methods:

Use 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.

Containers for Cognitive Services

Azure Cognitive Services also provides several Docker containers that let you use the same APIs that are available from Azure, on-premises. These containers give you the flexibility to bring Cognitive Services closer to your data for compliance, security, or other operational reasons. For more information, see 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.

Language support

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.


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

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.

Help and support

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 support options available to you, see Cognitive Services support and help options.

Next steps