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Bing for iPad Begs the Question: Who Needs Search Apps?

Microsoft (s msft) introduced its new dedicated Bing iPad search application Thursday, and my first impression is that it offers more useful features than Google’s (s goog) iOS (s aapl)app in a better package. Yet while it may outclass the competition, I also doubt I’ll ever use it again.

Microsoft did a nice job with the iPad Bing app. I’ve included a gallery below so you can see for yourself just how pretty the free app is. The sweeping vistas that make Bing so visually distinctive on the web look great on the iPad’s screen. The dynamically updated section thumbnails along the bottom of the interface not only look good, but they also offer some pretty great centrally located useful features as well. You can call up news headlines, weather, movie trailers and more with a single tap from the home screen. And everything transitions beautifully from one screen to another with the help of snappy and smooth animations.

As is often the case with Google offerings, its own dedicated universal iOS app looks bare-bones and more a case of all function, no flash by comparison. Microsoft even includes a voice search feature like Google, too. But despite its many virtues, I predict it’ll suffer the same fate as the Google app has on my iPhone and iPad: I’ll probably only open it a couple more times, and eventually I’ll delete it from my home screen.

Why? Because search is not something I need all that often on my tablet or smartphone, thanks to the wide availability of narrow-focus single speciality apps. And even in those instances where I do want to search the web, I can access Google or Bing in my device’s mobile Safari browser in just as many clicks as it would take me to get to it in a dedicated app, and the apps will kick me out to Safari to track down my results anyway. Search apps may use a dedicated browser by default, which Bing does, but that’s just another problem since in-app browsers don’t offer Apple’s recently-introduced WebKit optimizations.

Bing would probably work kind of nice as a sort of always-on picture frame/desk clock/info center, but that’s not how I use my mobile devices, and I’d much rather open Reeder, Flipboard or Zite to go hunting for news, or use Google Maps for directions. Bing does a bunch of things adequately, but in the age of apps, I’ve come to expect and prefer software that does one thing and does it very well instead of Swiss Army-style titles that tries to do too much.

The fact is, the only real search I need is built-in to my iOS device thanks to Apple’s own Spotlight search, which is always just a swipe or two away. More often than not these days, if I’m searching on my mobile device I’m looking for something local, and that’s something no third-party offerings can provide, and even if they did I’d probably just use Spotlight anyway.

Do you use third-party dedicated search apps on your device, and if so, what for?

7 Responses to “Bing for iPad Begs the Question: Who Needs Search Apps?”

  1. I’ll agree (though to a lesser tone) with bingsucks. Bing is starting to show up, unwelcome, in too many places, as MS is paying for placement. You can’t even play Angry Birds any longer without an invitation to search Bing coming up between each and every round (and that is in a paid app).

    The problem with MS is that if they ever get the upper hand, they throw standards out the window and force their own proprietary BS on the public. Should they win the search game, then who knows what search will look like, or how it will be weighted, but it’s a sure bet that it would be a step backward and weighted to favor anything and everything Microsoft. MS is not a forward-looking, innovative, company, and never has been. Win 7 is arguably the first decent Windows that’s ever come along. For 15 years, Windows users have been forced to use a crappy OS most of the time. Windows 95, 98, ME, Vista? Come on now. No one should be able to get away with releasing those products and being taken seriously.

    I live in a third world country where technology is years behind that of the US. Most sites here that require any amount of security (banking, shopping, video) are IE-only and don’t work with other browsers. Do any of you in the rest of the world remember that? Do you want to go back there? Because MS would go back there in a heartbeat if you let it. Keep using Bing and see what happens.

  2. “the apps will kick me out to Safari to track down my results anyway”

    This is the main reason why I’ve given up using the Google one. The Bing one, well, so far Microsoft has not made any piece of anything I’ve ever had a need for.

  3. bingsucks

    Really who doesn’t hate Bing yet? I mean could they get more invasive and still not have a weapon in hand? Right now you can’t even get an android powered device without that Bing crud on it and Google their direct competitor owns that OS outright. Now they intend to force it onto the Apple platform. Why don’t they get it when the number one question on every forum about the new devices is “how do I remove Bing?”. I haven’t seen a product with this much hatred for it’s forced placement since AOL made the same mistake a decade ago. I hope they give up this rotten enforced product placement soon before the backlash destroyes them as it did AOL. If someone wants to use your Bing site they have fingers and can type it themselves they don’t need to be forced to your site every time they activate their device forcing them to curse you for getting in their way each time they want something else.

    • Bing is forced on Android and iOS? The last time I checked, a consumer must actually go to the Appstore and download the application. Also, most smartphones (including Win7 phones) I have used default to Google in the browser. Though, there is the search button on Win7 phones that goes directly to bing. Furthermore, most brick-and-mortar electronics stores make their employees to set Google as the home page. IMO, Bing has a good layout aesthetically and is pushing new feature. Bing News is layed-out much better than Google. Though, I use both.

    • It’s rather unfortunate that you don’t get it. I just watched it on the Bing youtube channel and it looks really cool. Why don’t you give up ur hatred for MS or Bing? The app is cool and I’m currently downloading it for my iPad.
      Get used to using great products,It’ll help.