The old Microsoft Live Search mobile app offered a very strong and competitive user experience and featured voice search as well. I liked it quite a bit and believed it was not well appreciated. Today, in addition to a major upgrade of Bing Maps for the PC, Microsoft relaunched (or launched) the Bing mobile client for Sidekick, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. I haven’t yet had a chance to try it but I would imagine that it’s an improvement on the old Live Search app.
According to the Bing Community blog, the following are the prominent features of the new mobile app:
- Type Less, search more: Typing can be tough on small devices. Now you can easily speak your search query into your phone and let Bing do the rest. We’ve really worked to improve the quality of recognition and level of understanding we have when you speak – I always use this first now.
- Map Your Way: Quickly access maps, driving directions and traffic information so you can find where you are and get where you are going. The new application also includes an improved auto-locate feature to show your current location.
- Act Locally: Wherever you are, Bing makes it easy to find a nearby business, a new restaurant, or even a local movie theatre with the latest show times. You can quickly and easily bookmark locations and businesses for later reference.
- Get Quick Answers: Make decisions fast and on the go with the top web results and instant answers for your pressing questions. Save favorites and recent searches to a list so that you don’t have to repeat searches.
Voice search is by Tellme. The branding of the Bing mobile app is consistent with the PC, including changing photography on the homepage of the app — one of the most well liked features of Bing the PC search engine.
If we can assume that the user experience here is good, the missing piece is availability on more platforms such as the iPhone, Android, Nokia and webOS. Microsoft can’t afford to neglect these other platforms, especially the iPhone. Collectively all these platforms offer an opportunity to gain exposure to more people and acclimate them to the Bing brand and user experience.
Update: Bing is working an iPhone app apparently.