I’d wish for any iPhone app to look and feel like Bing for the iPhone. To keep up with search rival Google, Microsoft has released Bing for the iPhone. While Google’s Mobile app currently ranks as the 24th top free app in the iTunes App Store, Bing is now holding down the 26th spot. Will the app surpass Google in the App Store? Can Microsoft convert mobile search users?
Bing for iPhone: The Look
Let’s just say Microsoft made no mistakes on getting the look and feel of their Bing app just right! Bing for iPhone is streamlined with the OSX look and feel of the iPhone, but with a touch of Microsoft including the noted daily image backgrounds from Bing.com. It’s a clean and simple app that saves the best for your results. Why didn’t Vista or Windows 7 look like this? This theme is sported all throughout the app and its menus.
Bing for iPhone: Maps & Business
Map and geo-location features in Bing are are slick, fast, and comparable to the native Maps app on the iPhone. The maps feature makes great use of the location feature in iPhones to quickly find where you are and get directions to where you want to be. Get directions by distance and time alongside traffic updates. Bing also sports a walking distance calculator, but doesn’t integrated with transit systems (at least not in Atlanta). Directions for routes can in two taps, just like the native app. Map loading times are fast on Wi-Fi and 3G coupled with some neat loading visual effects.
Business reviews are integrated into search results allowing you to easy rate, call, or be directed to a business from one place. The maps falls short in a few key areas which Jessica Dolcourt points out in her review on CNet:
The Bing app for iPhone still isn’t complete. As far as we can tell so far, it lacks some of the extras of other mobile Bing apps, like the capability to lay down pushpins on the map and save locations, and the capability to view multiple locations on the map. The absent features in the iPhone app indicate the direction of Microsoft’s plans for Bing’s growth on iPhone.
However, the press release Kara Swisher’s received noted otherwise:
A Bing PR email noted that key features of the app include a daily image from Bing.com; easy-to-access voice search; tips and tricks on the homepage; “Locate Me” functionality; and the ability to add pushpins, save locations and show multiple locations on a single map.
What’s really going on? Either way, I haven’t been able to use these features or find them in the app.
Bing for iPhone: Image Search
I have to say image search has been a highlight of this app for me since I’m addicted to looking at iPhone customizations. Bing provides a really nice and clean view of images with a simple transparent box of options for visiting the page the image is on and view the image in fullscreen. Swipe gestures are smooth and fluid making image search a great experience using Bing.
Bing for iPhone: More Options
Bing for iPhone does feature voice search, but I found it to be inaccurate the majority of the time. I had to clearly enunciate each and every word when using it, otherwise it would give me a common word closest to what it thought I said. I couldn’t talk the way I normally would. Visiting the settings menu will give you access to additional options such as:
- Safe Search
- Units (metric or imperial)
- Control screen rotation
- Clear search history
Keep It or Leave It?
Bing’s regular search results fall short of my desire for info on the go. Google has become more adept at delivering the results I want to the first page with very little keyword magic. Bing doesn’t come close. Nevertheless, I like the design and feel of Bing for the iPhone. With Maps and Image Search Bing delivers in full on a great and reliable search experience.
Would I make a switch from the native Maps and Google Mobile for the iPhone? Probably not. Bing’s just playing catch-up with this app, but it could help Microsoft boost search traffic in the near future. And of course, it’s free. Download Bing for the iPhone right now in the iTunes App Store.