Microsoft June 24 suggested users of Apple's newly launched iPhone 4 should upgrade to its Bing search engine, which just upgraded its iPhone app and general mobile search application.
While Google remains Apple's default search service for the iPhone and iPad, the Bing team reminded users that its search engine is available as a default option on iPhone 4 and those who upgraded to the iOS 4 operating system.
iPhone owners running iOS 4 can make Bing their default search service by tapping the "settings" application. Users will then scroll down to Apple's Safari Web browser, tap the "search engine" button and choose Bing, said Bing Mobile team member Justin Jed.
Screenshots of the task are featured in this blog post here.
Meanwhile, the upgraded Bing app for iPhone and iPod Touch lets users connect their Facebook and Twitter accounts and see friends' status updates from within the Bing app.
Bing for iPhone is now pairing Web results with relevant results from users' social network. For example, users who search for a movie, play or restaurant may see showtimes or restaurant information, along with anything their friends have said about the shows and businesses on Twitter and Facebook.
Jed explained that more than 40 percent of the time when people ask ambiguous queries that don't have a defined answer, social networks provide better answers than traditional search engines.
Users can also give back what they take from their Facebook and Twitter friends, sharing search results with their contacts on those social Websites, or through e-mail.
Taking a page out of Google mobile applications for Android and iPhone smartphones, Bing for iPhone also now lets users scan product barcodes and the cover art of books, CDs, DVDs or video games with the iPhone's camera.
Not everyone wants to download, launch and search through a specialized application. To wit, the Bing team upgraded its mobile browser, m.bing.com.
Accessible on users' iPhone, Android, Palm and obviously Microsoft Windows phones Kin or Zune HD, m.bing.com now includes the Bing image of the day users would see on the Bing desktop app.
The mobile browser also offers location detection through the GPS on a phone; local search with suggested listings, including info on parking, cuisine and local business ratings; and the ability to find places nearby, save them to a favorites list, and share that list with friends. Jed explained the new local search tool:
"Bing shows you a list of suggestions based their popularity, your current location, and even the time of day, so at 9:00 a.m. you might see a coffee house rather than a bar. You can choose the radius for your search, narrowing to .5 miles for congested areas or when you're walking instead of driving.
Users can then favorite local shops, select a few favorites and show all of them on a single map, or e-mail the list to friends.
These features are very much now standard in Google's search and maps for mobile apps for any device, but especially on the iPhone, where Google apps prove extremely popular.
To Bing's chagrin, neither Apple nor Google seem inclined to sever that relationship, despite their obvious mobile phone rivalry between the iPhone and Android smartphones. Indeed, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at D8 he has no plans to dump Google as the default search provider.
Bing's refreshed iPhone app and mobile browser features are part of a major summer search refresh that revolved around the launch of the Bing Entertainment vertical in Los Angeles. See what Bing has done here.