What you need to know
- The Bing and Microsoft News (beta) apps received massive updates on Android.
- The overhauls makes the apps appear almost identical to each other and now serve as hubs.
- Microsoft is using these apps as showcases for all its Microsoft Bing services and AI tools.
Bing (opens in new tab) and Microsoft News (opens in new tab) have a new update rolling out on Android. The updates aren't yet mentioned on any app listings or official announcements. And following the updates, the Bing and Microsoft News apps appear almost identical.
The updates deliver a noticeable visual overhaul and bring Microsoft News and Bing for Android in line with each other along with a plethora of new features.
The layouts of the apps now appear to be identical, with the only visual difference being the Bing background on the Bing app. The new look appears to be rolling out gradually, as some of our devices see it on beta while others do not. We haven't spotted the overhaul on any non-beta versions of the app yet.
Interestingly, the Microsoft News app for Surface Duo remains unchanged. That app was a unique project at Microsoft to demonstrate the power of dual screens. The Bing app, however, is currently unoptimized for dual-screens, which is typical Microsoft.
Microsoft News and Bing as centralized services
One way to describe the new app experiences is as a hub. Microsoft has taken all its Bing services and effectively put them under one app with quick access to these 'applets' through the menu key. These apps include:
- Unit Convert
And it's not trivial fluff.
The wallpaper applet, like the new Bing app for Xbox, lets you browse and immediately set-as for your Android phone in one step. Math is a fully interactive module that enables you to ink out math problems or use your phone's camera to snap the math equation for it to solve for you. COVID-19 is the full Bing tracker plus the latest stories. Perhaps the most excellent part is, as of right now, there are very few ads throughout the app. It's all just immaculate, smooth, and gorgeous looking.
Users can also set the app(s) as their default browser, which is ... different.
Microsoft has been rethinking Microsoft News and how it works beyond 2020. It was recently disclosed that Microsoft had either laid off or moved many of the News employees, who personally curated the app, into other departments at Microsoft like OneDrive. Instead of humans, Microsoft is relying on its own AI to handle the workload.
The new leadership at Microsoft is focusing a lot on Bing and AI, and these new apps look to be showcased for those services. These changes include the recent re-name of Bing to Microsoft Bing with a fresh new logo.
So far, we like this new strategy.
There is no word if updates for the apps on iOS (Bing, Microsoft News) or Windows 10 (Microsoft News) are in the works, but we have heard rumblings of integrating News directly into the Windows shell, which could be very exciting. Stay tuned.