Search on Windows Phone 8 is set to become more streamlined and deliver smarter, faster results in a sense catching up to Bing apps for Apple iOS and Google Android.
In the coming weeks, Microsoft is pushing an automatic update for Windows Phone 8 users in the United States that promises to deliver better results using fewer swipes. Additional markets will soon follow suit, announced Microsoft spokesman Michael Stroh in the Bing Search Blog. Among the most noticeable differences between the current search functionality and what the software giant has in store is a pared-down assortment of search options.
"Today when you tap Search and flick left or right, you see four different search result categories: Web, Local, Media and Shopping. Once the update rolls out, you’ll see just three: Web, Images and Videos," wrote Stroh.
While it may seem that the company is taking an ax to Bing's search options, Microsoft is packing more relevant, in-context results to the default Web view. For instance, the Web category is designed to show what's most relevant to your search, such as local results, images and videos, explained Stroh. He added that the Bing team "also worked to improve the freshness of the service's local results" and made local businesses easier to find or call by surfacing the relevant information.
In addition, the update will introduce 10 new Instant Answers for a total of 30. These include current exchange rates, translations and traffic status. On Windows Phone 8. Bing will also delve deeper into popular Websites, giving users one-stop access to the most-frequented parts of a travel Website, for example.
A search for "Delta Airlines," explained Stroh, will cause Bing to show delta.com as the top result, but also include links to Flight Status, SkyMiles, Track Flight, Flight Schedules and other areas within the site, while saving searchers some taps.
Bing Snapshot is making the jump from PC browser to Windows Phone 8. Powered by Microsoft's Satori technology, which means "understanding" in Japanese, Snapshot provides details culled from sources such as Facebook, Klout, LinkedIn and Wikipedia to search results.
Image search now generates larger, auto-size thumbnails. Along with the Videos category, Images will also support infinite scrolling. Search technology aside, Microsoft has leaned heavily on images to set Bing apart from the competition over the years.
Typically, a photograph, along with interactive mouse-overs, serves as the backdrop for the Bing homepage. On Aug. 6, Lawrence Ripsher, head of program management and design for Bing User Experiences, announced that his group is teaming with 500px, a photo-sharing Website for photographers and enthusiasts, to bring curated images to parts of Bing.com over the coming months.
Finally, the company is lessening Bing's impact on cellular data plans. The company has made improvements to make Bing "deliver results faster on your phone and gobble up less data—a big deal in the era of carrier caps," Stroh wrote. Instead of pre-populating Images and Videos for each search, as Windows Phone 8 does currently, it downloads the when users swipe into those views.