Bing Image Search is entering its “next phase,” members of Microsoft’s search division teased in a blog post. The planned updates, which will roll out during the coming weeks, include a dynamic site design that is optimized for touch.
The Google Images competitor’s user interface poses a challenge to users as it layered added functionality, including search suggestions, and “people increasingly access Bing from a wide array of devices and screen resolutions with and without touch,” according to the Bing team. “This evolves our old experience, which struggled to cleanly support new content, different resolutions and input methods.”
Image results now stretch the full width of a user’s screen, instead of competing with the Related Topics column. “This means an uncluttered first page where images are the hero,” they said.
Previews will more faithfully resemble the originals, added Microsoft. “You’ll also notice that images have higher fidelity and are cropped and altered less to better inform your click.” Hovering over a thumbnail picture now generates a larger preview along with other information, including the image’s dimensions, format and origin.
Moreover, the new Bing Image Search experience is being prepared for an era in which mouse clicks are increasingly giving way to taps and gestures.
“Everything is touch-friendly, responsive, fast and fluid” on the iPad and touch-enabled Windows 8 devices, said the group. “These improvements will soon come to Kindle and Android tablets, as well. We now have one cohesive, touch-friendly experience across desktop and tablet and will be improving it more over time.”
The search suggestions feature has been streamlined into “a mini-header that slides in after you scroll down,” stated the post. “It’s designed to take about 10 percent of your screen to ensure it doesn’t detract from an immersive image search experience but still provide you with everything you’d need to change query or topic.”
Providing a glimpse into Microsoft’s Web analytics capabilities, Bing staffers said that the project was informed by user behavior.
Generally, visitors can be grouped into hunters and explorers, although those roles can shift, they discovered. “When it comes to image search, we know that when you conduct a search you’re either looking for a specific image or you’re looking to browse and explore across a range of different topics,” they wrote.
“We refer to these primary intents as hunting and exploring.” On average, people perform “two searches and view about six images.”
Google hasn’t been sitting still on the images front, either.
The latest image search experience from the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant sports a similarly uncluttered look that maximizes a user’s on-screen real estate and offers search suggestions. The layout automatically resizes to fit more images in a browser window as users scroll through their search results.