It might not be the most popular search engine around, but Bing plays a massive role in Windows Phone, providing search tools for web pages, music, shopping and finding items of local interest. Bing is so tightly integrated that you can almost forget that it’s even in Windows Phone!
Don’t Be So Hard On Bing
You’ve been ignoring Bing in favour of Google, haven’t you?
Well, you’re not alone. While Bing has made some inroads in its attempt to tackle the search dominance of Google, it hasn’t exactly set the world alight. However on Windows Phone 8 it is an integral part of the experience.
Here, as with Windows 8, Bing provides information that would otherwise need to be searched for manually. Voice and text search, music recognition services and barcodes, text translation and automated local searches are all available courtesy of Bing.
Windows Phone features the following Bing-powered services:
- Text and voice search.
- Shazam-style music search.
- Barcode and QR scanning and search.
- Local search for businesses and points of interest.
- Text translation.
Let’s take a look…
Windows Phone Text & Voice Search
The search tools expanded on here are all accessible via the hardware Search button, a typical magnifying glass.
Upon pressing this, you’ll see the Bing page, complete with search bar at the top of the screen and Scout, Music and Vision icons at the bottom. The menu can be expanded to display the music history option (for checking previous music searches) and the search settings.
The first type of search you’ll probably want to try is text. You should be quite familiar with the basics of how this works, however, thanks to using a desktop computer. Instead, the Voice search option can be activated by tapping the microphone button and uttering your search phrase. As long as your phone is connected to the Internet, you should get a list of results.
If you like this, you’ll find that there are more voice recognition tools available in Windows Phone 8.
(Voice recognition on Windows Phone requires an Internet connection.)
Identify & Buy Music With Bing
You’ve probably heard of Shazam, the popular app on Android and iPhone that can tell you the name of any song that is playing in the background wherever you are.
Windows Phone doesn’t need a Shazam app as the feature is built into Bing search. Use the search button to open Bing, then tap the music button to start listening.
Within a few moments, the track will have been identified, along with the artist and the album the song appears on. From here you can tap store to purchase the track through Xbox Music, or close to carry on with your business.
Scan Barcodes And QR Codes
The vision button on the Bing search screen in Windows Phone 8 is capable of scanning barcodes, QR codes, Microsoft tags, books, CDs and DVDs.
All you need to do to is tap vision and hold your phone up to a suitable barcode or QR code. The successful recognition of a barcode will display automatic search results for the item, which you can then tap to find out more about or compare prices online.
QR codes will display the encoded message or URL, the latter enabling you to tap to open the page in Internet Explorer.
Bing Searches Your Local Area
Whether you’re bored at home or you’re visiting a new town, Bing is ready with suggestions for you to get out and about.
The Scout feature will in the first instance display nearby places to eat+drink. As you swipe through the screens, it will also display things for you to see+do, and places you can go to shop.
If you have privacy concerns you can block Scout from using your current location by tapping search, opening settings and disabling Use my location.
Our guide on smartphone localization settings should help you to understand the implications of this.
Scan And Translate Text With The Camera. Yes, That’s What I Said
As well as using the camera to scan barcodes, you can use it to scan text – the resulting text can then be translated!
To do this, tap Search > Vision to activate the camera. Hold your phone in position in front of the text you wish to translate and tap scan text. A few seconds later the text will be scanned, ready for you to tap translate. Bing will then provide a translation of the text into your preferred language, anything Chinese to German to Urdo to Welsh!
This feature can prove really useful if you’re abroad and need a quick translation of a restaurant menu…
Conclusion: Five Great Bing Improvements
It isn’t clear exactly what Microsoft expects from Bing in the coming years, but in terms of Windows Phone 8 (like Windows 8) it is a key element.
Perhaps the omission of a native news app on Windows Phone 8 has led to the search service seeming absent on the platform, but as you can see the truth is quite different – Bing is the oil that greases Windows Phone’s wheels.
Image Credits: Vernon Chan Via Flickr