Today, Microsoft launched Bing for the iPad, an app that integrates the company's search experience with Apple's tablet. In essence, it's no different than Google's iPad app: You'll find all the features you'd expect from Bing (search, maps, etc.) optimized for the device's touch-screen interface. However, Bing's app is far more visually pleasing.
Of particular interest are two features: Bing News and Trends. On Google, we know what to expect: lots of blue links. On Bing, the experience has undergone a visual upgrade. The News section is now a Pulse-like experience, featuring headline images arranged by category on a scrolling display. The Trends section is even more visually rich, with splashy pictures highlighting the top trending searches for the past seven days.
"It looks like Pulse or Flipboard," acknowledges Stefan Weitz, director of Bing's search engine, of the design. "But it's all just Bing news. It's a way of getting people to think about search differently. The whole experience is all algorithmically driven."
The point, says Weitz, is to start moving search away from the traditional text-and-blue-link design an into a more visual realm.
"We're trying to get away from just ranking 10 links," he says. "So when you do a visual search for, say, shoes on Bing, we fire off this huge experience of all different shoes that you can sort through and grab and sort, especially with these touch devices. That's our goal now."
"Let's just leave Google ranking blue links—they're good at that," Weitz continues. "It's not where the ball is going."
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