You can’t call Bing an ‘app’ on Windows phone, as it is integrated into the larger platform itself. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be updated, however, and the Bing team has announced two upgrades, one available today, and one that will roll out in March, that should give it a mobile boost.
Keep in mind how small Windows Phone remains while we discuss these changes, as it will keep them in perspective; they can only affect so many users.
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Out today, Bing for Windows Phone can now scan “barcodes, CD, DVD and book covers,” and will provide “local availability and cost comparison information.” In other words, mobile shopping is something that Bing is aiming to make easier. This is an obvious upgrade, and one that will make Bing Vision a bit more intuitive. Of course, we would love if it scanned even more, but this expansion is welcome.
Secondly, due next month, Bing will help people find digital versions of print articles via ‘Bing Image Matching for Newspapers.’ You will be able to take a picture of an article, and be served a link to the digital version of that piece. Microsoft claims 3,000 publications will be supported. This is fun, but not groundbreaking; it’s a neat way to use technology, and will likely make current Windows Phone users a bit happier, but it won’t help drive sales, we don’t think.
Of course, Bing just wants to serve more searches, so to them this is an avenue to that end. However, until Microsoft can ignite Windows Phone sales, this sort of upgrade will have limited impact.