Microsoft’s mobile search app Bing, first released for the iPhone back in Dec’09, has received its first update. Listening to user feedback, Microsoft has made various improvements and implemented several new additions, including the ability to bookmark maps, directions, weather reports etc., parental controls, search history and private searches and more. Oddly enough, just as the update was made available, it had been reported that the app was subsequently pulled from Non-US App Stores.
According to Microsoft, it was never their intention to have released it outside the US in the first place. “When we released the iPhone application we inadvertently made it available to all countries in which the Apple Marketplace has a presence. We noticed the error within 24 hours and took steps to remove availability for all countries except for the US”, a rep told Neowin.net.
And in a statement to CNET, it appears that international versions of Bing for the iDevice are in the works. “We are planning to release international versions of the Bing iPhone application, but we have no dates to share at this time. Similar to our larger international strategy with Bing, we don’t want to take a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we want to be thoughtful and ensure we’re customizing the product for specific markets.”
You really have to wonder why it took Microsoft 3 months to take action, even though they claim that they realized the error within 24 hours of release.
Fret not though. If you live elsewhere and can’t wait for the updated Bing to be released in your country, you can always download it with a US iTunes account. It won’t cost you a dime nor will it require a US credit card. [see our post on how to create one]
While the app is still far from perfect even after the update (hit and miss voice recognition, still rather resource intensive), Bing is still robust and useful enough to to keep around as an alternative to the Google Mobile App. With over a million downloads already from the AppStore, look for the Bing app to gain more steam as Microsoft’s own search engine continues to improve and make converts out of existing Google and Yahoo users.
Microsoft Corporation, Bing – Free
New Update Features:
Bookmarks and improved web browsing: you can now bookmark maps, directions, web sites, businesses, search terms, even the weather report, and get to the bookmarks right from the Bing home page.
Sharing: you can share interesting results with your friends using e-mail.
Copy and paste URLs: you told us and we listened! We now support copying and pasting URLs.
Parental control on search settings: we helped make search safer by letting you set a SafeSearch level and create a passcode so it can’t be changed. This is a benefit for parents who want to make sure the kids are only going to safe sites on their devices.
Search history and private search: you can now view and edit your search history. You can also search the web without saving your history on the device using private search.
Explicit location setting: let your iPhone find you or set a specific location so you can search near there (super useful when you’re going to travel to another city and want to find things around there).
Tighter integration of contacts in directions: Bing now autosuggests contacts from your address book when you enter start and end locations in directions.
Support for 1st generation iPod touch devices: we now support all versions of iPod touch.