Bing Gets a Fresh Look, Shows Deeper Content in Search Results

Bing is planning some major changes to their search interface. This includes adding a quicktabsbar just below the search box, showing refined results for specific queries and organizing information without cluttering the search result pages with lots of links.

Lets take a closer look on the new changes made to Bing search results:

Quick Tabs: Earlier, the quick tabs appeared in the left sidebar but now the Bing team has decided to move it directly below the search box.

bing-quick-tabs

The interesting thing about the quicktabs is that they depend upon the search query and you might see different tabs for different queries. For example: if you search for Albert Einstein, you will see images and video quicktabs but this is not the case, if you search for Firefox.

bing-quick-tabs1

This is a very neat idea, query specific quicktabs shows you relevant information without cluttering the search result pages.

The size of the background image has also been reduced to give the quicktabs more visibility and focus.

The Left Column: The left column shows related searches and the most recent searches made by you. Nothing has changed but since the quicktabs have abandoned the sidebar, you can quickly access the related search terms without having to scroll down the page.

bing-related-searches

Note: The Changes are implemented only for a small set of users and you might see the older interface of Bing. However, Bing plans to roll the updates for everyone in a couple of days from now.

SearchEngineLand spotted a few more enhancements. This includes queries related to automobiles, health and Finance.

If you search for honda accord specs, you get the following results on the older interface of Bing:

bing-auto-searches

This is the old layout of search results the different links are shown one after another. However, with the newer design, you get more information regarding Honda specsand Bing takes you directly to the quicktab, as shown below:

bing-newer-design

Each of the orange links contain more information from MSN Autos. This is a very innovative approach to engage the user from the moment he completes a search and show him targeted content which is more likely to be useful.

[ via Bing Community Blog ]

Microsoft Bing App for iPhone Introduces Google Goggles like Features

Last year, Microsoft launched its Bing app for the iPhone, iPod and iPad, which took us by surprise with its pleasant interface and rich functionality. They further improved their offering in March, by adding a host of new features including location sharing and bookmarking. Now, Microsoft has updated its Bing app once again and this time around they are gunning for Google Goggles.

Microsoft-Bing-iPhone-App-Album-Art-Scanner

Bing for iOS now supports scanning of barcodes and cover art. Just snap the cover of a book, music album, movie or a video game and Bing will fetch and display relevant information. Additionally, you can also get information on certain items by scanning their barcodes. However, it still can’t recognize objects and monuments like Goggles.

Microsoft-Bing-iPhone-App

Bing 1.2 builds upon its social features and offers tight Facebook and Twitter integration. You can now connect to the aforementioned networks to view combined activity stream, get search results and even share results.

Bing has also amped up its shopping section to include reviews, ratings and prices. The movies section has also been expanded to showcase more trailers and clips.

The Bing app is available for free at the Apple App Store.

Did Microsoft Stop Bing Cashback to Curtail Online Division Losses?

The blogosphere is all buzzed today with the news of Bing stopping its cashback program where they gave cash back to users who purchased products using Bing search. Microsoft has said that they are stopping the program because of low use, however, there might be more things than what meets the eye.

Microsoft Online Operating Income

Let me point you to some facts, around more than a month ago, Business Insider ran a chart stating Microsoft’s online services division loss, a staggering loss of $711 million for the first quarter, this included Bing too.

Now, Microsoft did advertise Bing on both television and on the internet in a very bullish manner, however, do not expect that in itself to contribute towards the $711 million first quarter loss.

Considering that Microsoft pulled out Bing after the second quarter would definitely mean that their online services division has been looking at some very huge losses this quarter too, and most likely Bing cashback is a major contributor towards it.

Rest aside, Microsoft took a huge gamble with Bing Cashback and believe me it is in much larger use than Microsoft suggests, if you do not believe me, just take a look at forums which post about deals and you will understand what I am talking about.

What do you think is the real reason Microsoft stopped Bing Cashback, it is because of lack of use, or is it because of the dent the losses are causing into Microsoft’s revenue?

Google Custom Backgrounds: Google Goes Bing’s Way With Background Photos

Bing backgrounds have been very popular with users, and there are several software which allow you to download Bing backgrounds to your desktop. However, is Google copying the same feature from Bing?

Google Custom Backgrounds

To many it may be yes, with the news that Google just announced custom backgrounds for the Google homepage, which can be uploaded by users and used as backgrounds on Google.com. Users will be able to choose from a photo on their computer or from their Picasa Web Album or public gallery.

In addition to that, Google will also provide an easy way to switch between the background image and the simple UI Google currently provides with a single click. The feature will be available to US users over the next few days. This feature will also be available to international Google users in the near future.

So are you going to personalize your Google homepage? Do you think that Google has finally taken a leaf out of Bing’s book? Do let me know through your comments.

Bing To Replace Google For iPhone Search

Techcrunch reports that Microsoft’s search engine Bing will replace Google in the upcoming version of iPhone. The news isn’t 100% confirmed yet but seems to be coming from a number of reliable sources at Google and Microsoft. Google has been paying Apple $100 Million each year for exclusive search rights on iPhone but with the recent brawl between the two giants and the ever growing rivalry between iPhone and Android, that deal seems to be falling off.

With that said, how can Microsoft miss a chance to step over Google and increase their market share in the mobile search market. There is no news yet of how much Microsoft will be paying Apple for this deal, but more details will probably be revealed on June 7th at Apple’s WWDC event. With Bing already gaining market share in mobile search with its Windows Mobile phones, this move can be a serious threat to Google.

Google’s PAC-MAN Doodle Annoying Users To No End, May End Up Increasing Bing’s Market Share

I must start out with the fact that the PAC-MAN Doodle was probably one of the best I have seen in a long time, but for the next 48 hours there will be so many annoyed users who will switch from using Google to Bing, just because of the nuisance it creates.

Google Pacman Doodle

Google is no doubt celebrating PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday with a bang, however, the same bang can cause it to lose a good chunk of the search engine market in the next two days, which is how long the search giant is planning to run the Doodle on their home page.

There is no doubt that the Google Doodle is really cute and gives many people a chance to play the age-old popular game which is still famous, however, once everyone has had their fills, the annoying sound of the PAC-MAN game will come to haunt you when you want to search.

Take for example this recent comment where Julesc was so annoyed with the Google homepage that she decided to use another search engine, along with pointing us out to the fact that many users are now searching for ways to stop that annoying sounds.

This goes on to show that no matter what you do, you are bound to irk quite a few people on the way, however, I must admit that I personally don’t visit the Google homepage to search and use address bar to satisfy my needs, however, there will be several annoyed users who end up on Google.com and quietly make their way to Bing.com.

What was Google’s mistake in this, plain simple, they forgot to add an option to allow users to turn off the sound, which is forcing users to turn their speakers off. Now thanks to Google, you can expect Bing to rejoice with the sound :-).

Update: Google has now finally added a mute button to the home page, if you have found the PAC-MAN sound annoying just go and click the sound icon and the problem should be solved.

Bing ReDesigns App For Windows Phones, Adds Turn By Turn Navigation

Bing app for Windows phones which was already pretty good just got even better. All the mobile phones that run a Windows Mobile OS got a nice redesign of the app today along with a voice based turn-by-turn navigation. The new design of the app focus on greater accessibility and displays common searches like ‘Movies’ and ‘Maps’ upfront. Besides these, users can also get a single-click access to  Maps, Directions, Local and  Favorites.

The turn-by-turn navigation feature is available for all Windows phones with a Windows Mobile version 6.x and is obviously powered by Bing Maps. Now while using the app to get directions, clicking on the ‘Navigate’ button will calculate your shortest route and guide you at each turn with voice alerts and visual arrows. You can also choose to avoid highways or tolls or simply get a list of directions.

However, the navigation feature is currently only available to users in the US. The navigation feature currently works with the following phones:

HTC FuzeHTC PureHTC HD2

HTC Tilt 2

HTC Touch Diamond 2

HTC Touch HD

HTC Touch Pro

HTC Touch Pro 2

Motorola Q9c

Samsung Jack

Samsung Omnia II

Samsung Propel

T-Mobile Dash 3G

Download Bing Optimized Internet Explorer 8

As part of a campaign to promote Bing and IE8, Microsoft UK has released a version of Internet Explorer 8 optimized for Bing.

Contrary to popular belief, Internet Explorer 8 comes with quite a few nifty customizable features. The various customizable features in Internet Explorer such as Accelerators, Web Slices and Search Provider are pre-configured to use Bing. Following are the Bing specific changes:

  • Bing Bar
  • The search box incorporates results from Ciao!
  • Various Bing Accelerators such as searching for videos, images, tweets are pre-installed.
  • Web Slices for Ciao! and Weather are bundled.

Screenshot:

Download Page

PS: The installer sports the bing logo, neat touch!

(h/t @technogranma)

90% Of Google Employees Prefer Bing

Google is no doubt one of the biggest search engines in the world, but the fact is that most of the Google employees prefer using Bing for the reliability and let me say better travel options it presents, considering that Google is busy shipping its employees in and out of Silicon Valley.

The survey which was conducted by an internal Google team was leaked out and send out to us, we are unfortunately unable to present the survey as it is under embargo and won’t go out until 1st April 2010, however, we decided to break the embargo to write this post.

74% of those who surveyed and answered thought that Bing added more color to their lives with the new backgrounds which they wished they had as a wallpaper. However, 65% of the people surveyed also said that they missed their flights because of the problems with Bing’s Flight timings, and they switched back to Google again.

Nevertheless, 90% of those who were planning a trip did use Bing in an attempt to appease Redmond and have some of those high flying executives to get free trips sponsored by Microsoft. However, all they got was Kayak and Expedia.

The 90% of Google employees who used Bing said that they would use it to download a new wallpaper everyday, however, when questioned about actually using Bing to search, the employees drew a blank and asked whether Bing could actually be used for search.

Many people were questioning why Bing’s market share was increasing, we now have our answer and it is the wallpapers.

Thanks for the tip Google Bot, we love April Fool’s too.

Disclaimer: Anything written in this post should be devoured with utmost care. April Fool’s does provide us with a good reason to provide inedible content to our readers ;-).

The Safest Search Engine on the Web

I would like to nominate WOT-SurfCanyon as the safest search site on the web. This might be debatable, because there are a few dedicated search engines for children. However, kid-safe searches will not show you search results that any curious adult will want to see.

I define safe searching for adults, as being able to see everything, and yet be protected against sites that deliver malware, trojans and spyware. If you follow my definition, the WOT-SurfCanyon site is a search service that you may want to use.

Here’s a look at some search results for the most dangerous item you can search for, screensavers.

surfcanyon-wot-search

Please notice that there is a little green circle next to each search result. This is due to the WOT (Web of Trust) service that SurfCanyon is partnered with. If those circles are yellow or red, the search result is either risky or dangerous for different reasons.

There are two options at the top of the search results page which exclude certain results by default. Un-checking the check-boxes will allow you to see those results.

surfcanyon-exclusions

SurfCanyon also includes an icon next to each search result. The SurfCanyon icon looks like a little target with a blue arrow in the bulls-eye.

surfcanyon-bullseye

Clicking on the SurfCanyon bulls-eye will show you recommended search results based on the result you’ve chosen. This is a very nice feature, but I have not found it as useful as the WOT icon. Clicking on the WOT icon will give you more details about the website behind that search result.

I recently wrote about the WOT addon for Firefox, IE and Chrome browsers. It provides this safe search feature, but it does require that you use the addon. If you don’t want to install an addon to your web browser, the WOT-SurfCanyon search is exactly what you need to stay safe.

Sometime soon, I’ll tell you how to set SurfCanyon-WOT as your default search engine in Firefox, IE, Chrome and Opera. Until then, search safely!