Microsoft’s Bing search service is now available as an application in the iPhone App store.
The free application looks just as it does on the PC with beautiful landscape images and a simple design. However, there are a few differences: When you open the app, it asks permission to get your location, and it has six categories on the center of the page: Images, Movies, Maps, Businesses, News and Directions. When you click on movies, it automatically shows you what is playing near you; the directions category automatically sets your current location as the starting point.
Bing showed off the app at a party thrown by its mobile team in San Francisco, reports Kara Swisher at All Things D. The Bing Mobile team had reached out to us earlier today saying an announcement was coming this evening, but no need to wait since it’s available in iTunes now. In a Bing blog post, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) talks about some of the features, including voice search. Say “San Francisco weather,” for a quick result, or even say a full address for a map or directions. It works by holding the phone to your ear to speak, or pressing the mic button.
However, a quick search on a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android device shows that Microsoft has yet to launch one on its biggest rival’s platform — and it’s limited now to iPhone, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Sidekick. While this is not the first app Microsoft has made for the iPhone, it definitely is its biggest effort yet with other ones being more experimental, like the Seadragon photo app and a Tag Reader. It’s not clear if this will mark the opening of Microsoft’s floodgates for the iPhone, which has been brutal to compete against from a Windows Mobile standpoint.
Still, Microsoft will have a steep hill to climb with Google’s search having a huge headstart on the platform — not to mention a great new way to monetize their mobile experiences through the $750 million purchase of AdMob.