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Bing’s image search once challenged Google, offering more features and a better design. With infinite scrolling and the ability to search for similar images, Bing was legitimately better than Google at image search just a few years ago. But since then, Google has closed the ground and made a lot of progress. Where do they stand now, and which should be your image search engine of choice?
Both Bing Images and Google Images are good enough for most users. You can’t go wrong with either one. But there’s one search engine that offers more features, a better design, and all-around superior results with less duplicates.
As a quick test, I searched for “dog” on both Bing Images and Google Images to compare the results. Bing Images returned decent results, but there were a few problems – it displayed a few duplicate images and some clip art-style images. It’s likely that people searching for this won’t want the clip art images.
In contrast, Google Images returned only unique images – and photos too, no clip art. I did several other searches and found that, in general, Bing seems to display more duplicate images than Google.
Google Images also beats Bing Images in presentation, with its larger image thumbnails. In contrast, Bing uses more white space between the images and arranges them in a grid with lines. Google Images intelligently arranges the thumbnails by their size, so they fit together nicely and make optimal use of the available space.
Both results pages have the “infinite scroll” feature that Bing introduced first. The page loads new images as you scroll — you don’t have to click a link to view more results.
Viewing An Image
Click an image and Bing takes you to a page with a small version of the image. Bing allows you to flick through other images in the search results, but viewing the full-size image requires an additional click.
Google takes you to the full size image in a single click. It doesn’t allow you to flip through the other images – but then, you can click the back button and select another image.
Which one you prefer is up to you. Personally, I prefer Google’s version – I’ve already clicked the image, so I probably want to view it in full size instead of browsing other images.
Sort By Subject
Google Images can intelligently sort the search results by their subjects, which can help organize them. This is a pretty cool feature – Bing doesn’t have anything like it, unless you want to perform additional searches and view the results on separate pages.
Hover over an image in Google Images and you’ll see a “Similar Images” link that displays visually similar images. Bing doesn’t have this feature.
You might assume that Google is just ahead of Bing, but you’d be wrong – Bing actually had a “similar images” feature before Google did. Google implemented it later and, at the time, the press reported it as Google copying Bing. Bing appears to have removed the feature in 2010, leaving Google in a position of strength. Why they’d do this, I have no idea – if Bing ever re-implements this feature, they’ll be accused of copying Google!
Both Google and Bing offer a good amount of search tools. You can search for images by their size, color, or dimensions. You can also look for photographs, clip art, line drawings, or faces.
Google has one feature Bing doesn’t – you can search for only images from the past week, while Bing includes no time range option. If you’re looking for images relating to a recent event, this makes Google the clear winner.
Uploading An Image
Using Google Images, you can upload an image from your computer or provide its URL (web address). Click the little camera icon in the search box or drag and drop an image onto the page to upload an image.
Not only will Google show you similar images on the web, it will try to guess what the image is and show you webpages that contain it, for context. If you have an image file and you’re not sure what it is or where it’s from, Google can help. Bing doesn’t have anything like this feature.
Bing started from a position of strength, with its “similar images” feature, infinite scrolling, and better laid out search results. Over time, Google has matched and surpassed Bing’s design and features, while Bing has actually gone in reverse by removing the ability to search for similar images. Google includes more search features, a better design, and what seem like better results (this part is much more questionable – I’m sure there are results for which Bing beats Google, although Bing seems to consistently show more duplicates).
Unless you really like Bing – or just dislike Google – I can’t see any reason to use Bing Images over Google Images.
Which do you prefer – Google Images or Bing Images? Does Bing Images have a killer feature that we missed? Leave a comment and let us know.