Bing today is launching several new features that greatly improve the search engine, and continue its war with the giant Google. Upgrades include integration with Wolfram|Alpha, upgraded “hover over” capabilities, and intent based weather and event results.
Strong Wolfram|Alpha Integration:
We heard about this a while back; Bing is finally bringing it live. Of course, Bing has long called itself a “decision engine,” instead of a normal search engine. Integration with Wolfram|Alpha is a big step in that direction.
Microsoft claims to want to bring you “knowledge versus information.” In their notes to TheNextWeb, Microsoft outlined how you might go about using Wolfram|Alpha and Bing together:
“Some estimates suggest that as many as 90 million Americans are on a diet each year. Bing brings you improved nutrition results in partnership with Wolfram Alpha, to help you make more informed choices on your diet. When you search for specific food items on Bing you get a nutrition quick tab that allows you to learn more about it. You also get a nutrition facts label at the bottom of the results page that summarizes all information on that food item in a very familiar and friendly format.”
I have long been a fan of Wolfram Alpha, and I have proof. Bing is a strong search engine, but tight integration with Wolfram|Alpha is a big step, in my eyes, to making it great.
Check out the video that Microsoft prepared here.
Improved Hover Previews:
Something that has always bothered users of search engines, is pulling data from a page of links. Bing is hoping to change that with its new hover previews. Once you mouse over, Bing will provide you with an actual snapshot of the website that you are looking at.
If there is one, and it is appropriate, Bing will find and serve you the customer service number, a move that will appeal to the general user. Bing will also bring you “deep links,” which are the most clicked links on that website. I am not sure how Bing will get that information, but if they can pull it off, more power to them.
Inside the actual hover box, there is a “search this site” box for a quick search, saving you time and steps. Google offers something similar to this, but only for larger websites. Bing seems to be attempting to expand the idea.
Finally, when you hover view a Facebook profile, Bing will pull the persons image and their friends. You can send them a message or friend request. More and more Bing just wants to do it all, and seemingly can.
You can watch the video that Microsoft prepared here.
Better Weather and Events Results:
Bing is beginning to gather and collate data from around the web to bring it into a single interface. Bing is taking data from “news, events, xRank results, Twitter feeds, images, Best Match results and content from sites you trust,” to help you make a real decision.
If you start a search for a NYC event, and click on “weather,” Bing is going to get the point, and start helping me with weather in New York City. It smells semantic and real time. Those are two aromas that I enjoy in my search results. It might look something like this:
Bing pulls in radar, averages, forecasts, current conditions, and other data to provide a very deep and inclusive weather picture that is built, “on the fly.”
Check out the video that Microsoft put together here.
All in all, Microsoft is releasing some very strong new capabilities today. These are incremental, but innovative improvements to an already strong product. I am personally the most excited about the Wolfram|Alpha integration, but to each their own.