Microsoft's newest update to its Bing mobile site is optimized for touch, capitalizing on the rising trend in smartphones and other devices that rely on multitouch screens for navigation.
Phones and media players that support this mobile version of Bing currently include the iPhone, Zune HD, T-Mobile F1, Verizon Imagio and Samsung Omnia, with Microsoft promising to add support for other devices "over the next couple of months."
"Great news for you touch phone owners in the U.S.: we have a new version of Bing just for high-resolution touch devices," Justin Jed, group product manager for Bing Mobile, wrote in an Oct. 30 posting on the Bing blog. "We optimized touch navigation to make the most of your phone."
In addition to touch-screen optimization, the update includes an NFL feature that displays the latest games, stats and scores; flight status, which lets users check the latest departure and landing times; and a movies feature for researching show times, plot overviews, trailers and video clips.
These new services, however, are U.S.-only for the time being-a fact causing a bit of ire among the community visiting the Bing blog.
"Why do you continually disregard the rest of the world?" wrote one commenter. "Why do we matter so little to the Bing team?"
"It's very annoying seeing all these great features while us folk in the U.K. (and the rest of the world) are still waiting to see them," wrote another.
In addition to Bing's mobile site, Microsoft has also focused on integrating increased touch-screen capabilities into Windows Mobile 6.5, its new operating system for smartphones. Stephanie Ferguson, Microsoft's general manager of product management, mentioned in a Sept. 1 post on the Windows Blog that the Microsoft mobile team had dedicated themselves to "making the user interface more touch-friendly and improving notifications and updates from e-mail, text and calendar items."
Mobile 6.5's touch capabilities include the ability to navigate via taps, swipes and finger flicks. It also utilizes a new version of Internet Explorer Mobile that renders Web pages in a manner reminiscent of desktop-style.
While the popularity of the iPhone and similar devices has made multitouch an increasingly hot proposition for smartphones, touch screens have also been expanding beyond traditional niche segments such as engineering and into the consumer sphere.
At the Windows 7 launch, Microsoft heavily promoted its PC manufacturing partners' touch-screen technology, showing off devices that let users navigate their desktop by tapping icons and buttons. Microsoft and its partners currently have applications in development that include a few games and multimedia creation.