Sporting a new look and feel, and currently available in the Apple App Store, the latest version of Microsoft's Bing app for iPhone (v.6) comes a step closer to serving as a search-based hub for mobile experiences.
"Today we are delighted to announce the new Bing app that rethinks search on your iPhone," Richard Qian, corporate vice president of Bing User Experience (UX) Engineering, wrote in a blog post. "We designed the app to bring together the information you need, connected to the apps you trust, to help you 'find' and 'do' faster and easier than ever before."
Mobile and PC-based searches are fundamentally different, necessitating a fundamentally different approach for each, Qian wrote.
The former often requires "instant answers and the ability to take immediate action," he said. In that regard, the Bing app has been redesigned so "you search and take action from one place so you can focus on the things that you want to find and do, rather than where and how to accomplish them."
On the iPhone, the app is aware of other media-handling apps, enabling users to view streaming movies or listen to music on their preferred apps. "Say you want to watch Good Will Hunting. Search once in the Bing iPhone app and your options for watching are right there—you're just a tap away from 'play,'" explained Qian. "Similarly, you can easily find a song—say Adele's 'Rumour Has It'—and listen to it through your favorite app, or watch the music video right inside the Bing app together with the lyrics."
For a night on the town, Bing now enables users to find local restaurants, peruse their ratings and reserve a table from within the app. Likewise, users can scope out movie times, get IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings, and book tickets.
"The Bing team created this new mobile experience to better reflect the way iPhone users, and all mobile users, interact with and use apps," Qian added. "[It's] based on our deep understanding of people, places, and things, together with the actions and apps that are deep linked with them."
Microsoft's focus on mobile search extends beyond app-assisted experiences to the Internet at large.
A week ago, the company announced the general availability of the Bing Mobile Friendliness Test Tool, which provides webmasters with a scorecard of sorts that rates how well their sites translate into a mobile experience.
"When you submit the URL of a page to be analyzed to the Mobile Friendliness Test tool, our Bing Mobile crawler fetches and renders the page, extracting important features that are used by the tool to determine how the page performs against each of the above factors," Charu Puhazholi, senior program manager, Microsoft Bing Webmaster Tools, and Shyam Jayasankar, program manager, Microsoft Bing Mobile Ranking, explained in a co-authored blog post. "The outcomes are then aggregated into a consolidated mobile-friendliness verdict for the page."