Microsoft’s new Bing iPhone app — that’s right, you heard it correctly — is an accomplishment on many levels. Microsoft has come a long way in acknowledging the importance of the iPhone platform. And the app itself offers a terrific overall mobile search experience, particularly in maps and local. It’s available this evening in the iTunes app store.
In short, it’s well designed, intuitive, pleasing to look at and most importantly useful. How does it compare to Google, which dominates search on the iPhone? It stacks up very well and offers a more “integrated” experience in many respects. Barry Schwartz and I have both been playing with it and are impressed.
On the homepage it highlights several categories of information:
- Business locations and related information
However it also does general web search for any query.
Queries can be keyed in or spoken, with “voice search” from Tellme. In my several quick tests of the voice search capability it was generally very accurate. Barry’s side by side voice search comparison found that Google’s voice search was slightly more accurate than Bing in the several queries he tried.
Users can search directly for business listings or browse by category (location is automatic) to find the nearest desired business type.
All business listings offer “one-click” directions on the integrated Bing Maps. Users can obtain walking or driving directions, as well as change the look or imagery on the Map.
Traffic is also available with a click:
There are predictive search suggestions and search history, to look up previous queries as well.
I’ve only played with it for a couple of hours in total and haven’t done systematic side-by-side testing of Google and Yahoo’s iPhone apps to compare search queries and results. But my initial impressions are very favorable.
Building an iPhone app is an important step for Microsoft to gain access to the mobile internet’s most active and engaged audience right now. And when many of them download it they’ll be very pleased (maybe surprised too) with how good it is.
Next stop . . . Android.