Microsoft's Bing Search For Mobile - InformationWeek

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Commentary
6/3/2009
06:45 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Microsoft's Bing Search For Mobile

This week Microsoft revealed Bing.com to the world as its new search engine, or as MS likes to call it, a decision engine. It is a new way to search the web and can provide some interesting results. MS wasted no time in setting the engine up to work with mobile devices.

This week Microsoft revealed Bing.com to the world as its new search engine, or as MS likes to call it, a decision engine. It is a new way to search the web and can provide some interesting results. MS wasted no time in setting the engine up to work with mobile devices.You can access the site by typing m.bing.com into your phone's browser or by visiting the Bing mobile page and entering your phone's number there. The site will send a text to your phone with a link you can click on.

Once you are on the site, you can tell it your location and then save it. It has the ability to remember three locations for you, home, work and a third you can label yourself. These locations are important for search results. If you search for "coffee house" it will first try to find coffee shops around you. It will then offer up links to define what a coffee house is, just as a traditional search might. It will also give you other local results like movie times at nearby theaters or weather forecasts.

Bing for Mobile also does mapping. Once you have your location set on the home page, just tap on "Directions" and then tell it where you want to go. It will bring up a map with driving directions. If you have a Windows Mobile device you could always download the interactive map application, but not everyone has Windows Mobile and even if you do, if you use maps sparingly, a web page once in a while is easier than installing an application and setting it up. Once you have the directions, you can switch it to walking directions or driving directions that avoids traffic if traffic status is supported in your area.

If you go into Bing's preferences from the home page, you can set it to filter your results to block out explicit results or not, and tell it whether or not to let you through to the actual web site when you click on it or let Bing reformat the page so it works better on your phone. I tried this on a few sites and it works reasonably well. Once you are on a Bing formatted page, you can quickly switch to the full site without modifying your preferences via a link at the bottom of the page. There is also a handy frame navigator that will show you a zoomed out look at the whole page and then allow you to zoom in on the frame you are interested in. This makes it easy to read a blog or news article without all of the advertisments, history and navigation tools that tend to make sites look horrible, difficult to navigate and slow to load and render on a phone.

I've played with Bing on my desktop and it has an interesting way to return information. It hasn't replaced Google for me, but unlike Live Search before it, it has earned its place as one of my browser's search providers. With all of the extra features that Bing for Mobile offers in one place, it may become the default search engine on my phone.

You can read about these and other Bing for Mobile features here or get a full overview of the decision engine itself to see how it differs from other search engines.

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