Microsoft today launched an entirely revamped Bing search engine app for iOS, which it is hoping will reimagine search on the iPhone. The Bing app has a new design with a much cleaner interface and a series of quick action buttons that aim to cut down on the amount of typing a user needs to do to get relevant search results.
According to Microsoft, existing mobile search engines are a copycat of PC-based search engines - long lists of links - but the needs on mobile are much different. On a phone, people are looking for faster ways to get what they want while minimizing the number of interactions, an experience Microsoft is planning to deliver with Bing.
The main focal point of the app is a search button that launches a standard search for any topic, using either words, voice, or an image. This search interface includes popular search topics, like "restaurants near me," and it also includes links to search images, videos, or news, in addition to the web.
On the main Bing screen below the search button, there's a series of quick tap buttons that will bring up things people often search for. "Near Me," for example, displays a list of venues that are nearby, and additional buttons like "Dinner" or "Coffee" let users drill down further in the search results without ever having to type a word.
There are also quick links to bring up local restaurants, current movies, images, videos, and maps, while scrolling down will open up a list of breaking news stories. Microsoft has put a lot of thought into the Bing search engine, and its results cover everything a person might be looking for.
As an example, if you tap the Movie quick link on the home screen, it shows movies in theaters, but it also shows new movies that have been added to Netflix and Amazon Prime, along with popular movies on both services. Tapping on one of these movies brings up information like actors and movie reviews, along with a long list of relevant apps. From the search results, a movie like Nightcrawler can be opened in Netflix, purchased on iTunes, rented on Amazon, or opened in VUDU.
Microsoft has made deep linking a major focal point in its new Bing app, and app-based search results that open the relevant app are available for many different types of searches. For example, searching for a popular restaurant nearby and then tapping that result will include all relevant associated apps.
A search for a local Chipotle brings up a map, a phone number, and a list of associated apps. Yelp, Foursquare, and Zomato are offered up as apps where reviews are available, while AllMenu is listed as a way to view the menu and Apple Maps, Uber, Google Maps, and Lyft are provided as options for getting there. For a restaurant with food delivery, Bing might offer up the relevant app, or for a restaurant that takes reservations, Bing will provide something like OpenTable as an option.
A search for a television show might bring up an option to open it up directly in Netflix, while searching for a particular song includes app links to watch it in the YouTube app or buy it in iTunes. In addition to helping people find things faster, Microsoft is hoping its deep linking will aid users in app discovery, helping them find new ways to do things via apps.
The new Bing app also takes advantage of Microsoft's Knowledge and Action Graph, which incorporates 21 billion facts, five billion relationships between entities, and 18 billion actions to give users answers to common questions quickly. That's been coupled with extensive work on indexing apps to build the backbone for the new Bing mobile experience.