First look: Hands-on with Microsoft's new Bing app for iPhone

With Microsoft's recent push to offer better apps for iOS and Android, it was only a matter of time before Bing received an update. Today, Microsoft is launching a revamped and improved version of the Bing app for iPhone. For the past couple of days, we have had the pleasure of previewing it and want to share the experience with you.

If you have never installed the Bing app or used Bing before, their trademark color for the service has always had a trace of golden yellow. In 2013, Microsoft rebranded the service, bringing the gold color to the forefront with a new logo. With the latest update, Microsoft has ditched gold entirely and transitioned the logo to a a subtle hue of turquoise. During the setup process, users will be greeted with all of the ways that Bing can help you. For example, the app can assist you in finding movies, explore new places, music, restaurants and more.

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The installation process of the app is simple and there is an extended level of personalization if you login, but it is not required. Once everything is setup, you'll be greeted with a completely new start screen that of course features the Bing wallpaper of the day, but also new icons to easily gain access to the things that are most important when searching. If you are looking for web searches, you can search by tapping on the large search icon in the middle of the page, but if you are interested in other things, Microsoft has set up categories on the bottom portion of the screen for quicker access to searches. Unlike the previous Bing app, the new version is more streamlined in design by putting everything front and center. If you're looking for the handy QR scanner or voice search, the feature has now been tucked away in the upper left hand corner and can be accessed by tapping the Bing logo.

If are not looking to do a standard search, you can access one of the new quick access searches found at the bottom of the main page.

Near Me – Allows users to find the best of what's available in the vicinity
Restaurants – Restaurants are organized by ratings, deals, delivery, and online reservations
Movies – Movies are organized by what’s new on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or genre
Images and Videos – Popular image and video searches populate the page
Maps

Each of the categories above will assist you in finding the most relevant information you need based on the category you select. What makes searches in the Bing app different than a standard web experience is the ability to quickly take the 'next step' beyond your initial search. For example, by searching in 'Near Me' or 'Restaurants' category, you will be presented with the results, but also various coupon and similar offers for those search results presented.


Perhaps what is most pleasant about the new Bing app is what Microsoft refers to as the ability to quickly "Find it + Do it". It's the ability to transition directly from the search results to whatever action you ultimately want to carry out. For example, if you search for a movie, it will display the details of that movie, but also have options at the bottom to play that movie via available apps (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon). If you click an available app, it will open the app and start playing the movie. This isn't just restricted to the movie search, but expands through each section of the Bing categories.

If you are looking though restaurants, there is the option to find the location using apps like Google Maps and Apple's Maps app and call an Uber or Lyft directly from the search. Microsoft has also sprinkled music searches with the same type of enhanced experience, allowing users to dive right into music apps from searches (iTunes, YouTube, Vevo, etc) and also purchase concert tickets (TicketMaster, StubHub, SongKick, etc). While it might not be the most revolutionary experience, it's the little details like the app linking that make the new Bing better and more useful than its predecessor.

Overall, the app feels fairly smooth, but does have room to grow. While everything feels fast, I can't help but think that the old app was sometimes a bit quicker when pulling up search results. But, this is the first iteration of a new app that is bound to get better and see improvements over time.

The Bing iOS app is now available on the App Store.

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