Bing is rolling out a set of upgrades for Windows Phone 8. The wide-ranging update—which will show up automatically on U.S. phones in the coming weeks, with additional markets coming thereafter—streamlines the Bing search interface and adds some handy new features.
A few of you might already have noticed the change. For everybody else, here’s a preview of what you’ll soon see when you tap the Search button (Note: some features I describe below are only available in specific markets).
New look, more features
Today when you tap Search and flick left or right, you see four different search result categories: Web, Local, Media, and Shopping. Once the update rolls out, you’ll see just three: Web, Images, and Videos.
Why the design change?
As useful as some of the existing views might seem, many people just don’t use them all—or know that they’re there, Bing product manager Alisher Saydalikhodjayev told me. Consolidating and streamlining the views should reduce confusion and help people find what they’re looking for more easily.
The new Web category, for example, is designed to be smart enough to show whatever’s most relevant to your search, including images, videos, and local results (check out the screenshots below). “We’re gonna put more info on your first search result screen,” Saydalikhodjayev says. This also means less swiping on your part, he notes. The Bing team has also worked to improve the freshness of the service’s local results and made it easier to get things like directions and phone numbers for local businesses.
The update also brings richer results for popular websites. For example, say you search for “Delta Airlines.” Bing shows delta.com as the top result, but also provides links to Flight Status, SkyMiles, Track Flight, Flight Schedules, and other popular destinations within the site, saving some taps.
There are other upgrades. The new Images and Videos categories now support infinite scrolling. Images also received a design makeover that brings larger, auto-sized thumbnails. Here’s how it looks:
Finally, some under-the-hood tweaks were designed to make Bing deliver results faster on your phone and gobble up less data—a big deal in the era of carrier caps. Saydalikhodjayev says that’s because, post update, your phone downloads results only for the default Web view. Images and Videos are populated on demand if you swipe over to them.
That’s a big change from how things work on your phone today. Today Bing fills all four existing categories with results every time you search, whether you use them or not.
More Instant Answers
Instant Answers are one of my favorite Bing features—and they’re an especially big time saver on a phone. They save you from having to open other apps or navigate away from the search result page.
The new update brings 10 Instant Answers available on the PC to the phone, including traffic, flight status, exchange rates, word definitions and translations, and more. For example, search for “Define Awesome” to get the dictionary definition right there on the search results page. Or “USD JPY” to find out how the US Dollar is doing against the Yen. Here’s how they look:
Once this new batch of Instant Answers arrives, Windows Phone will support about 30 in all. And Saydalikhodjayev says new Instant Answers introduced in the future should arrive on Windows Phone more quickly thanks to the new update.
More at-a-glance info
Last year Bing introduce a web feature called Snapshot, which provides information at-a-glance about people, places, or things, so you can quickly find what you’re searching for. Now that same capability is coming to Windows Phone 8 in the U.S.
For example, type in the name of a coworker and you might see details like where they went to school, where they worked, and other people connected to searches for that person. For a place like Mt. Everest, you might see things like a short description, elevation, date of first ascent, and the names of some of the famous people who summited it. (Just tap on that little featured thumbnail photo in search results to access the related info.)
Search for the movie “World War Z” and you’ll see reviews, cast members, related films, and even links to buy movie tickets.
So whether you’re searching for a celebrity, co-worker, animal, geographic location, or man-made structure, Bing helps you better understand the world around you by providing at-a-glance answers and related info based on what people are searching for.
The original blog post said: "The new Web category, for example, is designed to be smart enough to show whatever’s most relevant to your search,"
How can it be smart enough to find out what is the most relevant?
When I search for "Starbucks", today I may mean the store locations, and tomorrow I may mean the news about the store, and another day I may mean a few images of the store.
Are you as smart as God to know what I am thinking?
Shouldn't the users themselves know the best what they need?
What a stupid decision to remove the local category, one of the most useful things. Based on what data that they decided this is not a useful feature?
BRING BACK THE SEPARATE LOCAL SCREEN!!! Honestly, it is just about the only thing about my phone that my IPhone-owning friends thought was great. It really was great. I used it all the time! I never comment on these boards, but this is seriously hampering my life. The new "local" search function is completely useless!
I am not getting any local results after this change. I see some apps, some web results then related searches and more web results.
I finally found a small "Feedback" link at the end of tens of pages of web results on the phone. I tried to submit feedback, it opens up the Mail app and composes a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. I take the time to write a nice feedback message with copious details, since I sincerely doubt anyone of consequence is reading this blog, and what do I get in return?
Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:
Your message can't be delivered because delivery to this address is restricted.
Go Microsoft! Way to get that feedback. Must be nice to have an open feedback loop and just destroy search experiences as you see fit without any input from the consumer.
So now that I've downloaded the Google search app, I can return to using their "Places" functionality that actually WORKS.
I use Bing on my Windows Phone as my exclusive search engine. I find the entire notion of 'blended' results to be repulsive and do not in any way like the change. I think the removal of the "Local" pivot is a disastrous decision. Microsoft simply cannot leave well-enough alone and it's obvious little user-testing of these changes occured prior to release. I am surrounded by hundreds of Windows Phone users and I'm yet to hear one single person who likes the fact that the "Local" pivot was removed and "blended".
Microsoft doesn't understand the strengths of their own interface design. The entire purpose of pivots is to provide a contextual interface to information and functionality! That way, I see what I want to see in a given category with almost no need to sort or filter the information presented. I shouldn't have to scroll through a gigantic pile of information that includes news, local results, web results, and more while carefully looking for the discerning, almost invisible word, "news", to know that I've entered a new category of results. Pivots remove the need to spend so much time deciphering what you're looking at and they get the user to the information they're seeking faster.
Why is it any more valid to keep pivots for images and videos than for local results? Why do local results and news belong next to one another? When I'm looking for a Starbucks, sub shop, etc. the last thing I'm interested in are the 10-Q financials for Starbucks. News means nothing in that context, unless of course the Starbucks you're telling me I'm nearest to burned down. News does not belong interspersed with web results. It gets a pivot of it's own.
Local results, same deal. Your removal of the local pivot has essentially taken the most popular search function (on my phone at least), and destroyed it. The results that formerly appeared in "Local" now no longer appear at all. You've broken the functionality. I searched for Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer, Subway, McDonalds, and Costco. Not a single one of those returned a local result in my "Web" pivot. There are at least two (2) of every single of those entities within 10 miles of my current location. On my HTC 8X, where this update has not yet struck, *every single* one of those entities appeared promptly and properly in the "Local" pivot.
There's nothing like having a supposed "decision engine" (Bing) return you an almost indeciperable smattering of information, all in one interface, thereby making it impossible to in any efficient manner, consume said information and make a decision.
Please for the love of Windows Phone and for the proper and consistent use of it's interface design, use pivots for their intended purpose. Bring back the "Local" pivot. And in future updates, roll them out with sufficient user testing. There's no reason why users shouldn't be presented with an opt-in dialog to allow them to participate in a structured test and development cycle.
Also, why is it that there are effectively no means to provide feedback for Bing search on the Windows Phone? I shouldn't have to come to this blog to drop this note.
Finally, whoever's bright idea it was to put the text-to-speech microphone at the end of the text field for the search engine needs to be slapped. At least twice per day I hit that stupid icon when simply trying to get to the end of my search query to modify or add a word. It's also inconstent, yet again, as given that in every other app I've used, the microphone for text-to-speech functionality is at the bottom of the screen.
Please help!!!! My Windows Phone 8 Bing search received new update just now but it's having series problems!!! The result page is super messy with buttons like "submit query" and question marks etc. What's going on? It is showing some kind of feedback button all the time. When I click that feedback button, it takes me to email page to let me send email to "email@example.com". I sent email but outlook said "message can't be delivered because delivery to this address is restricted". What the heck? Is it a kind of developer version not final version???
I also attach the whole email here, from my SkyDrive:
Please help!! Thanks in advance
I just got this update on my 920. Please bring back local search. I don't know who told you guys it wasn't being used, but it was the best feature. Bring it back!!!!
To all the foreign people below me clamoring for this update...thank your lucky stars it hasn't been pushed to you yet.
I recently posted on problems with local regarding this update. Local is now working like shown in this blog. It works great. I'm once again a happy Windows Phone user. Nice work!
Today I tried to search auto parts store. I had to say that the updated bing search just doesn't do its job at all. At one point I tried to search "Napa auto parts store", and guess what, it returned 3 Napa stores all of which are 600+ miles away! Ouch!
Why the hell they decide to remove the "local" category? That's one of the most useful category.
Well I got the update now, and I tried to search "staples" (I mean the store), and the results it gave is garbage. And I tried to search "stables store", and it gave a physical store location. Guess what it gave me: A Staple store that is 2389 miles away!
How could the "web" category replace (or be a superset of) the "local" category? When I search using "local" category, it would give multiple results, and by looking at those results, I know which store I want to go to (not necessarily the closet one) because I want to choose a store that most convenient to my current driving direction.
I have the 920 on AT&T. I have not received this update. How do I get it? My Bing search is the same as always.
However... please! keep Local search. I love that option to force a local search!!
I really hope you rethink this update. Every WP person I know relies heavily on local search. I received this update with no prior knowledge and was lost without it. The local results on the web pivot shown on this blog never worked once in 3 weeks. I had to fall back to using map search which shows very little detail. Equally frustrating is my OS version was identical to those without the update. I finally reset my phone so I could get rid of the update. Please do not push this out globally without fixing these issues.
NEDEN TÜRKİYE (TR) İÇİN YOK? TÜRKİYE'YE 2 SINIF ÜLKE MUAMALESİ YAPIYORSUNUZ? BİR ÇOK UYGULAMA BÖLGELERDEN DOLAYI KULLANILMIYOR OYSA UYGULAMALARIN GLOBAL OLMASI GEREKMEZ Mİ?
Many Windows App get daily updates and I get to know about them reading news about Windows phone on http://www.mobileosworld.com/. Its a great windows 8 news blog
Why would consumer buy an expensive windows phone if she does not get the first rate service? Consumers outside US will be buying phones whose manufacturer do service them better. You do realize that the spherical object in the center of the current location. You do realize that the ball is centered at the current location.
We need the local tab back.
I am not getting any local search results like appear in the 5th photo of this article ("restaurants in seattle"). Now that the Local Pivot is gone and there are no local results returned, Bing for WP8 forces me to click on the website of the business I am hunting for. Does anyone know why I receive no local listings on my Web Pivot? It appears that MS has screwed this up, at least in my case.
In regards to people using (or not using) the existing views, can we see some of the data? I find it incredibly hard to believe that on a mobile device it makes sense to collapse Local into Web, and then expand Media into Images and Video. It just doesn't make sense. Are these use metrics based on mobile users? Data please!
Windows Phone Team,
read this on the bloggers have started to say.
And I fear to say its true.
I like Microsoft, but in Italy we Always should use Google because Bing is uselesse most of the time. Cannot search the informations we want.
Microsoft should invest more in other coutries other than USA.
Keep the new features coming. Although I keep hearing bing doesn't work that well internationally so you guys might want to work on that. However I just really hope you guys bring a Nokia windows phone to sprint.
LOCAL search results have been absolutely killed.
it's hard to tell what a web result is vs a local result. I just searched on "restaurant" here are the results:
3. Wikipedia page
4-5. two app suggestions
6-8. thee local restaurants (This is the info I really wanted to see but a dozen listed should be visible -- not three)
9+... and a dozen more generic web pages that have noting to do with LOCAL
Windows Phone, Mark my words if u concentrate only in "US" then believe it wont be long that ur name will be taken as an extinct alien Mobile OS species outside US
Give us & US a break, hop outside US and see outside US & u will find that the potential market is outside US.
Stop saying that it will be done in stages.
How come ur other competitors roll out updates in one stack to other countries at once.
u being a giant team, cry like this "We will roll out in stages"
It feels pathetic.
not only the updates & roll outs, even the product launch too.
L1020 is launched in US and not yet in INDIA & many more countries.
Why? Dont we pay? Or our foriegn policies stop u? or u are scared of something!!!!!
Do u know that L920 was almost out of stock, on the day it was launched in India, leave India aside, Only my MUMBAI it did happened that I had to roam all over mumbai searching Nokia stores for L920.
I bet that if u & ur partner "NOKIA" launch any product Globally & then when u cross check your DAY ONE sales.
INDIA would be the biggest contributor.
all i want to say is
dont behave like frog of a Pond.
be a Whale swimming proudly in ocean.
And the competitors will taste the real taste of competition.....
I was eagerly waiting for L925 to be launched in INDIA & check out the new updates of AMBER as it was not rolling out quikly on L920, but surprisingly u & Nokia launched L1020 & the L625 back to back.
Cool yaar, no one does that many changes and updates in a OS so quickly & that shows ur team's Excellence.
But again the same thing.
Its only for US.
Grow up WINDOWS PHONE TEAM.
GROW UP. LAUNCH UPDATES & PRODUCTS GLOBALLY
Its not only me who is mad on this childish behavior, there are plenty more.
Make a separate blog for complaints only and i think u have to keep 24/7 team monitoring them.
and None of the would be A US citizen.
Great! But will this be available in Europe? Here in Austria and many other European countries we still have "Bing (Beta)" which isn't very good, unfortunately.
Keep the updation for US only and keep getting lowest market share ,what a paradoax ?.Atleast its clear MSFT knows wp8 adoption rate is more than rest of US in india,europe,china,they should bring it in months not years (No hope If you want beautiful interface of bing (web) u have to switch to US version ,its been around one year no update reflected in india.I purposefully use bing to improve search algorithm and results for benefit of bing and then I use google to get relevant results.I am fed up with this US only attitude :( ,please don't make us desperate to leave your platform.Make fabulous dish for us customers who don't want to eat your dish and keep rest of us away from table starving and showing your dish :) .
So its US only again, while WP8 has almost the lowest market-share in the US.
What other countries and when will get this update?
News on August 06, 2013 : http://goo.gl/5xpGTv
News on August 06, 2013 : goo .gl/5xpGTv
How do you pronounce Alisher Saydalikhodjayev's last name?
Ah, I would love to see Bing Rewards integration in the future! :D
and in 5 years time if lucky this sort of stuff MIGHT reach other nations.
WHY does Bing have to segregate so much between each of the areas? Can't the base information be the same?
Even the new Windows 8.1 Search Hero SUCKS in Australia for City Search information (No weather etc) AS ADVERTISED
Parity is needed across all Bing sites.. Not just bring the good features to USA and stuff the rest of us in a corner for a year or two
Bing Team(s) you NEED to think GLOBAL and not LOCAL to help Microsoft to pick up again in global markets for Phones/Windows8
Is this update going to be available in Australia? If so, when?
Does that mean Bing vision search, audio/music (listen+search), and local scout go away?
Great updates - can't wait to have them pushed to my phone - I'm currently using the Nokia Lumia 928
Will those features be available in Germany / Europe? Or is it US-only again like many other bing features as well.
I already have this update but I think it's overheating my phone! :( :( :(
Wonderful and all....... EXCEPT IT NEEDS TO INTEGRATE BING REWARDS PLEASE.
OK, this is great. For now!
But Bing on Windows Phone should support more features similar to the new experience that will be delivered to Windows 8.1 search. There should be an integrated searching experience on phone as in PC, as Windows moves to be a single platform on PCs and phones.
Also there's the problem of not using the search button for in-apps search. This is definitely irrelevant for having a search button on the phone, which just launches a search app. Search should work all across the phone and in-apps (native and store downloaded).
Wow its like the web version only better
I like this much better. I love you Bing.
Again US only feature? which is of no use for us? You guys really need to see world outside US. in US u have very less consumers of Windows Phone yet Windows Phone gets all US centric features.
That looks great, but I doubt I'll ever get to use it. Bing is pretty good in the US from what I can see, but here in Denmark it already has a severely tarnished reputation because Bing here has no features and lackluster results. If you want to compete, you have to do so worldwide. Nobody here will use Bing because they have tried it and found it so crappy that it is unusable.
The same goes for Windows Phone. No Local Scout, no Voice Recognition etc. Why do you insist on punishing your customers just because we dare live outside the US? How about leapfrogging Google and providing every service everywhere?
Wired! Why it's not on my phone yet? Lumia 928 Verizon
I also find it frustrating that a lot of these features are not implemented in Canada like local scout and Bing cards, etc. For WP to be a success they need to try harder beyond the US/UK, etc.
AFAIK nothing has rolled out over the 3 year lifespan of windows phone in Canada, where I live. It has always been better when you set the locale to US. So is the web version. There are certain things that don't require specific feeds that can easily be implemented into other areas, such as places, recipes, local search results, definitions, etc. It's an artificial restriction.
@turkoise.aa and @wtrmlnjuc: Thanks for the commments. The post notes that many of these features are coming to various markets outside the U.S, although the Bing team hasn't announced specific timing yet. Generally speaking, it's pretty common for update rollouts to happen in stages like this.
@shalgrim: That will be the basis of a future blog contest. ;-)
This is absolutely worthless news outside the US. Why do you limit your services?
These sound great, especially the changes wrt Local. But what I really want to know is how to pronounce Alisher's last name.
Great, when will this be available in Europe (Belgium)?