Microsoft March 19 upgraded its free Bing application for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch to version 1.1, adding bookmarks, location setting and a number of other features to fortify the software's search experience.
The app, which has seen more than 1 million downloads since its launch in mid-December, now lets users bookmark Websites, map directions, as well as search terms and the weather report. Users may access their bookmarks from the Bing home page.
Bing 1.1 for the iPhone lets users view and edit their search history and use the private search feature to search the Web without saving their previous searches on the iPhone or iPod Touch. This ability to let users erase their digital footprints is a nice touch privacy-minded folks should appreciate.
A new location setting leverages the iPhone's GPS to find its user or enter a different location setting so the user can search near there. The Bing iPhone app also now auto-suggests contacts from a user's address book when you enter start and end locations in directions.
Such location settings on the device recall Web services that Google is offering with its Google Maps for mobile application, which helps users find nearby businesses.
Indeed, location and the ability to share it from smartphones such as the iPhone and Google Android phones has increasingly become table stakes with the rise of Gowalla, Foursquare and other location-based apps.
The Bing team also added a parental control option on the search settings, letting parents set a SafeSearch level and create a passcode so it can't be changed.
Another key new feature is that the app supports the copying and pasting of URLs. This was a big bone of contention between Apple and its iPhone users until Apple added these capabilities in its iPhone OS 3.0. Ironically, Microsoft's ballyhooed Windows Phone 7 Series won't have this functionality when it rolls out later this year.
Those are the major upgrades, but Bing Mobile team member Florian Voss wrote in a blog post March 19:
"We've made a number of stability fixes and usability tweaks, especially in image search, and design updates have made options and dialog boxes easier to use."
U.S. users may download the application, which also now supports first generation iPod touch devices, here from the App Store, or from the iTunes store. However, the Bing app for iPhone is not available in international markets after Microsoft yanked it from Apple's App Stores earlier this week.
Bing released version 1.0 of its iPhone app late last year with voice search, the ability to search for nearby points of interest, and receive driving or walking directions.
One million downloads in three months is not bad, particularly considering Google remains the default search app on the iPhone.
However, reports indicate that may not last for long, as some believe Apple is close to bumping Google for Bing in an effort to curtail Google's search and mobile Web dominance.