Microsoft's Bing team made a number of search-related improvements to its Bing for iPhone app, as well as the Bing for Mobile browser Website, as it seeks to compete with Google and others in the mobile arena.
Microsoft Bing made some mobile application and browsing
moves to make it easier for users to find iPhone applications and share
via Facebook, features the company hopes will differentiate it from
Google's mobile offerings for the iPhone and Android handsets.
The Bing team added
an auto app discovery feature that
surfaces applications in the context of typical Web queries.
Now users who search for apps such as Thor 3D, Facebook
and Hotels in Seattle from their iPhone's Bing for Mobile app will see appropriate apps surface on Bing from their iPhone.
The idea is to help iPhone users avoid the needle-in-the-haystack
search for Apple App Store apps, which now number more than 400,000.
Bing will also now find the app a user is searching for
using the exact app name or other criteria. Now queries such as Top iPhone
Apps, News Apps and Download Fruit Ninja will also surface relevant programs.
Moreover, to make it easier for iPhone users to get to
the apps themselves, Bing can also launch some installed apps, such as Yelp,
Facebook and IMDb, directly from the app search results.
If an app is not installed on a user's iPhone, when they
click on the download link Bing takes them to the iTunes App Store to download
the app. If the app is already installed and the developer has enabled the
launch functionality, then it will launch automatically.
This is something that Google, Apple and others may seriously
consider trying their own implementation of to make app downloads more
palatable for users.
Bing's moves come as Google is improving app discovery in
its Android Market. The company also quietly added
a feature that tells users
whether an app they want to download its compatible with their Android
smartphone or tablet.
Bing's upgrades for the iPhone come after Google's mobile app team
spent the last several months improving functionality for the Google
Mobile app for iPhone.
Bing for Mobile Web browsing, m.bing.com, also has a few new features
available for smartphones that support HTML5, including
iPhone, Android and RIM BlackBerry OS 6 devices.
There is a new Share on Facebook feature, which lets
users share images, local business details, and applications (for iOS devices)
with Facebook friends.
The Bing for Mobile browser home page now features a carousel
that lets users flip through the headlines or scroll down to see the top three
headlines and images for U.S, world, local, entertainment, science/technology, business politics, sports, and health news.
Also, while it won't be confused for Google's Place Pages
anytime soon, Microsoft also integrated map directions and business
a single view.