Microsoft (s msft) is pushing out new Bing for Mobile apps this week that are built on HTML5 and blend the best of native apps with a robust mobile web experience. Bing for Mobile Hybrid Apps will allow user to get a consistent experience across all platforms, because the core Bing app is written in HTML5 and will be essentially the same across all native clients and the web. But it will be able to tap specific hardware features on each device so users will be able to take advantage of services such as Bing Vision and voice search.
Microsoft gets a lot of advantages by leveraging HTML5. It can launch features on various platforms quickly because they’re built off the same base and it can keep a consistent experience between different platforms. And it eliminates the need to keep downloading updates for native apps because Microsoft can keep the core of the apps up-to-date. Some improvements that first appeared on the mobile web version of Bing, such as Bing Deals and transit directions, should appear faster on the mobile apps.
Bing for Mobile Hybrid Apps also utilizes HTML5 because it can better fulfill user searches. Instead of answering queries with information or an app, Bing for Mobile will be able to integrate outside services more easily so users can complete tasks without leaving the app. For instance, a ticketing service can be integrated right into Bing for Mobile to fulfill a user’s desire to buy tickets.
“We think it’s an interesting model to think about how to expose the things you can do with a product or service in ways that engines like Bing can consume them, so we can do a better job,” said Stefan Weitz, senior director of Bing. “That’s the idea, how can we begin to unlock the power of these applications so engines like Bing can use them to fulfill a request.”
The hybrid apps also offer other improvements including:
- Maps/List Split View. Users can see a list view alongside a map on one screen, making it easy for people to see what they’re searching for. This can also work for driving directions and transit.
- Search History. Users can see a history of their search queries to get back to recent searches.
- Deals. Bing for Mobile offers local deals aggregated from Groupon, LivingSocial, Tippr and other major deal providers.
Bing for Mobile Hybrid Apps will first appear on the iPhone(s aapl) in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as on certain Android (s goog)devices in the United States. Microsoft is also working on hybrid apps for BlackBerry (s rimm) and Windows Phone 7 devices.