Mobile
Commentary
11/9/2010
10:28 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Google Takes Mobile Search Fight To Microsoft's Doorstep

Google introduced a mobile search application for Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 platform to compete with Bing.

On Monday, Google made a new mobile search application available for the nascent Windows Phone 7 smartphone platform. This goes beyond using Google.com to perform searches, and allows users to search without first opening the browser. Is it any good?

For users accustomed to the powerful search capabilities of Google Search for Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms, prepare for some disappointment. The new Google Search application for Windows Phone 7 only performs basic web searches. It won't search the device itself for contact or other information. (Neither, by the way, does Bing.)

It offers some of Google's essential features, such as search suggestions. Google offers search query suggestions as you type on the handset. Users can then choose from the suggestions if Google comes up with the right one. That helps speed things up a bit. The search app also includes geolocation support, which means it will provide local search results.

I tested both of these features, and they work just fine, but Google Search for iOS and Android far out-paces what Google has done for Windows Phone 7. The iOS and Android search apps are more fully realized and complete, and offer device-side and web-based searching. Those are key.

Pitted against Microsoft's own Bing search tool, I can't say that Google has done much to improve upon what Bing offers. The actual results are about the same, but Bing is more seamlessly integrated into the WP7 platform, and uses WP7 user interface elements that give it more elegant look. Google's search results look as they would on any mobile browser.

Last, Google Search for Windows Phone 7 doesn't offer voice-based searching, while Bing does. That's a big feature for Google to leave out. That means Google searches will always have to be typed.

Hopefully Google will update this application quickly. In its 1.0 state, Google Search for Windows Phone 7 is incomplete and missing keey features. Bing is better and Windows Phone 7 users should stick with Microsoft's option for now.

Google may have brought the fight to Microsoft's doorstep, but Microsoft kicked it back to the curb pretty handily.

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