Microsoft announced several updates to its Bing search engine, including improvements to its user experience, local and mobile capabilities.
Google has made great strides in these areas, too. The leading search engine launched its Google Places local business search in April, overhauled its search user interface, and applied its Google Instant predictive search technology to mobile phones in November.
For all of that innovative firepower, Bing also cranked out a couple upgrades in an area where Google has been woefully lacking: social.
Microsoft recently began indexing Facebook user profiles to surface contacts that are relevant to the searcher. The company also added Liked Results, displaying the Websites and links "liked" by a Facebook user's friends.
So if a user searches for a coffee shop in Manhattan and one of their Facebook friends has recommended a certain Starbucks, that location will show up in Bing's search results.
This was a firm validation of Bing by longtime partner Facebook, the definitive social network around the globe. At the Dec. 15 search event, Bing said it was bringing this Liked Results feature to more sites.
Now if Bing search results include a specific link that has also been "liked" by someone in a searcher's Facebook network the link will be highlighted as "Liked" within Bing."
Bing also more quietly revealed that the Happy Island social game is now available on Bing Games, allowing users to play with their friends by connecting the game directly to their Facebook page.
Sure, Google indexes Twitter tweets in its search results. But that's a far cry from the interactivity Bing is providing with Facebook Liked Results and Happy Island, which hooks into the Facebook Connect service.