New Bing 2.0 App for iPad Looks Great but Results Aren't Pretty

Microsoft released Bing for iPad 2.0 and added some new features, as well as a streamlined interface. The app's good looking, but CIO.com blogger James A. Martin is still sticking with Google. Here's why.

Microsoft just gave Bing for iPad a major makeover. Version 2.0 of the free search app looks great and offers some nice features. But Bing still isn’t Google when it comes to results.

Bing for iPad now has a new interface for iOS 7. It’s certainly more streamlined than Bing.com in the iOS Safari browser. In Safari, Bing.com has a top-level navigation bar for accessing images, videos, maps, news, your search history, MSN and Outlook.com. In the app, most of the links, as well as a few others, are accessed by tapping an icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. (Microsoft's separate Bing app for iPhones and iPod touch was last updated on Nov. 28.)

Bing for iPad

Bing for iPad is dominated by the picture of the day, which is often stunning. A new feature lets you save a copy of the daily pic to your SkyDrive account. (You see a note informing you the image should only be used as wallpaper.)

You can now save bookmarks to your SkyDrive account for access from other devices, though the process isn’t intuitive. Some other things aren’t intuitive either. For example, a row of thumbnails runs along the bottom of the home screen. The far-left thumbnail is for weather. I set San Francisco as my location, but I keep getting weather for Twin Peaks, Calif.

Also among the home-screen, bottom-row thumbnails is one for images. The images rotate from one subject to another. I saw everyone from Santa Claus to Shirley MacLaine depicted among the rotating images in the thumbnails. Santa Claus, I get. But Shirley MacLaine? I’m a fan, but why her specifically?

Ultimately, a search app is only as good as the search results it delivers. In several comparative tests, though, I found Google either equaled or, most of the time, beat Bing in delivering the best collection of relevant results.

In one test, I used the phrase "Nebraska showtimes 94114" to find showtimes for that film near my neighborhood. Google delivered an info box with showtimes for two nearby theaters. I clicked a showtime, and I was taken to MovieTickets.com to purchase tickets.

With Bing, however, I received a link to the movie’s website, a general link to movie showings and theaters near me, and a link to Marcus Theaters, which has locations in Nebraska. Um, thanks so much, Bing.

Pretty pictures are great. And Microsoft does a nice job integrating Facebook and Twitter into the Bing for iPad app. But I’m sticking with Google. 

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