Microsoft details forthcoming changes to Bing search on Windows Phone 8

On Friday, we brought you a report of upcoming changes to how Bing works and looks on Windows Phone 8. At the time, we presented a handful of documented alterations and confirmed with Microsoft that these new features were coming to those in the US soon and the rest of the world a bit later.

Today, Microsoft has decided to detail those changes on the Windows Phone Blog, filling in some of the blanks for the search engine overhaul.

Some of those changes include the previously mentioned redesign of Web search, which now merges the Local pivot within it. That’s because Web search has become smarter, allowing it to “…show whatever’s most relevant to your search, including images, videos, and local results”. That’s opposed to the previous method where you’d have to swipe to the right to view different categories.

Such modifications should mean less taps and swipes from consumers, with only relevant information being presented. Similarly, searching for a site like Delta Airlines will now present you with “links to Flight Status, SkyMiles, Track Flight, Flight Schedules”, making things a lot simpler.

Another update is how data is used. On the old Bing, when you brought down results it would also populate the images and video pivots, regardless if you used them or not. Now with the new update, those pivots won’t have data downloaded unless the user swipes to the right, purposefully requesting more information. That should help cut back on some data for users and it is a good move when you consider the earlier re-thinking of the Web search results.

Two other features are Instant Answers and Snapshot. The former we alluded to with the definitions example, whereby Bing will give you a word definition without having to drill into a site to find out more. We have now learned that such Instant Answers include results for local time requests, currency information, traffic data, flight records and more. Meanwhile, Snapshot “provides information at-a-glance about people, places, or things”, without having to load up a website.

All in all, these are nice additions to Bing, though it will be a few weeks before people in the US with a Windows Phone 8 device see these changes (users won’t have to do anything, as the update will come from Microsoft’s servers). We still haven’t had the new experience load up here in New York, but what about you folks? Let us know in comments.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Wow
  • I just noticed these changes this morning, here in Las Vegas on AT&.! Love them
  • At&t Vegas here, no changes yet :(
  • Can you copy a link from the results list? Can you at least share a link from the results list? Can you copy the link to an image in the image search results? Bonus: Can I use Bing search INSIDE Internet Explorer? Because Bing search is such a mess, I have to use Google as my search engine, and I really would like to use Bing; but it's just not possible. Microsoft does not want WP users to use Bing. If it does want it, Microsoft should really fix the shitty Bing Search to AT LEAST MATCH what you can do in the browser (if you could actually browse the website). And, as a bonus, also allow users to search directly INSIDE the browser. JFC!!!!!!  
  • Also, can you copy or at least share a URL scanned from a QR code via Bing Vision? Actually, is the Vision button still in Bing Search?
  • Ah man, I'm going to miss Local Scout. Such a handy feature...just kidding, Daniel!
  • Looks awesome! Update hasn't reached Seattle as far as I can tell
  • That's because in the article, it's stated that this will hit in two weeks. Lol
  • At the end of the article they ask for the info you just read. No need for correcting him for information provided.
  • Why does it bug you that I said that?
  • I've already got the changes on my 920.
  • It could have been if they only worked on it :( What's even worse is that HERE services suck when it comes to places...
  • lol ^_^
  • Local Scout is not part of search ;) It's staying.
  • Cool. I use local scout a lot when out of town. Or if I want to find out what's around the place that I'm going.
  • But Local Scout is terrible. The newly updated Yelp app is vastly superior at this particular task.
  • I have no problems with Local Scout.
  • Try comparing the results to the local search in the Yelp app.
  • Okay, I took you up on this challenge.  I installed Yelp, and for my *very first* search, I searched in Yelp for "Goodyear".  Yelp showed me a list of like 14 tire stores in my area, *none* of which had "Goodyear" in the name.  Do these other places pay Yelp and Goodyear doesn't?  Dunno.  Switched over to Bing, searched for Goodyear.  Bing found 6 Goodyear repair shops.  Advantage: Bing.
    Now, I do like the little map button on Yelp that shows me where all the places it found are.  Of course, it didn't find what I was looking for, so a map showing all the places I wasn't interested in isn't all that exciting.  But the map idea is a good one.
    I searched for Panera.  Bing found 7 Paneras.  Yelp found 2 Panera's and a lot of other non-Panera's.  Also, when I select a Panera, Bing shows me something that Yelp doesn't:  Store hours.  Bing also has "Neighborbood - see what's nearby."  I really like that. 
    Also, Bing search lets me go to Apps, where I can pick Yelp if I want.  Does Yelp offer to take me to Bing?  I think not.
    Conclusion:  Bing rules, Yelp drools.
  • Conclusion - You didn't truly understand what my point was. I was referring only to Local Scout..more precisely Local Scout's ability to find and list restaurants nearby. Since you devoted a lot of time to the actual Bing 'Search' which wasn't what my point of contention was, I'll focus on the See what's nearby, Eat and Drink feature of Local Scout which is what I think is lacking.
    Both the Nearby and Hot and New Nearby tabs in the Yelp app return far numerous and up to date results than what I get for Local Scout. And maybe you missed it, but the store/restaurant hours are listed along with the ability to launch Maps for directions.
    So, this is not about Search. Just Local Scout.
  • Ahh, okay, fair point, I was conflating Bing Search and Local Scout.  Frankly, I don't use Local Scout much.  I went back to Yelp and tapped "Nearby", and it gave me a bunch of different categories to choose from.  I would definitely use this more than Local Scout.  What would be nice is if the "Nearby" tile could be "deep pinned" to the Start screen, so I could get to Yelp's Nearby with one tap from Start.
  • Don't you get him started!
  • First to US later for the rest of the world -_-
  • The all important U.S. with one of the lowest marketshares for Windows Phone....
  • Lowest, compared to a smaller nation that has fewer on population? Yeah, it my be 5% right now, but that's 5% of the total population.
  • Sure, but world largest smartphone market is China. Also as Lumia sales dominate over 80% of WP, Nokia's quarterly revenue is second smallest in NA, comes after Africa. Asia is 4 times more and Europe is 5 times more.
    Future of smartphones is in China and EU is the largest smartphone market.
  • Actually it's 5% of new smartphone purchases
  • Do you know how many people live in us.... Winners.
  • Not much compared to the East. :)
  • Much fewer WP users than those that live outside of the US. To make things worse they cripple Bing outside of the US (even here, in Canada, where stepping over the border makes a large difference in search functionality) and make it an indecent alternative to Google.
  • The all-important US, where Microsoft is based out of and, thus, has the most power when it comes laws and regulations... Yes.
  • Next step: voice commands that do more than web search.
  • Even on WP7 you could do more than that
  • Update seems to have hit Albany NY.  Instant answers are working and the local tab is missing.  Pretty slick!
  • Lucky you! Rollout in 2 weeks? I hope not. Hope it comes out today! Waiting here in California...
  • Definitions, translations, and traffic are working, the current time doesn't seem to work though.. weird
  • Hmm, still don't have it yet. I'll check back in an hour. Got a 1020
  • Same ok Bing for me (web/local/media /shop) - ATT, Albany, NY, Lumia 920
  • works on my 8XT on Sprint in Sioux Falls SD
  • Bing is the shizzle
  • fo shizzle
  • It would be excellent to have Bing Rewards integration. It's not much trouble to switch the browser to desktop mode,but still ...
  • This!
  • Instant access to Bing Rewards would be great!
  • We'll leave google in 3... 2... 1... Boom!
  • Nothing in Central Florida yet.
  • I really miss the local feature. It was great for finding phone numbers and calling directly without opening the page.
  • Can still do that. The phone numbers are even clearer to see now, they show up in a little button under the store/restaurant name. Don't even have to click on the store name.
  • Does rest of the world include us asians ?
  • Are you in San Francisco? I know a couple Asians there that got the update. I wasn't aware that this was being rolled out by ethnicity.
  • Don't play stupid please. You know darn well what was meant.
    No unfortunately all of this will be US only as most often is the case with Bing. Here in Europe we have no Bing Rewards, no Local Scout and all of the mentioned changes to the search engine are not even planned here.
    That's the problem with Microsoft. They concentrate 150% on their home market when in fact outside of it they have way more sales. But looking at it this way is probably deemed unpatriotic and therefore not possible in an American firm.
  • NIST's reply was very appropriate. It's been stated already that the change will eventually roll out worldwide; I assume there wasn't a hidden clause detailing leaving out a specific ethnicity.
  • Well said. Microsoft's strategy just boggles the mind. Sometimes it's as if they have no clue.
  • Excited for update
  • Got it on mine. At&t 920 Tennessee.
  • Got the new changes the day after the first article, Lumia 920 South Jersey!!!
  • Bing is rubbish for non-US costumers... just like the Wallet to name one.
  • If it helps, I'm not sure the Wallet is all that great here in the US either.
  • Now that's what i call innovative stuff. It isn't a reason to ignore the much desired basic essentials though, which everyone has talked about and i am seriously tired of mentioning them again and again. Still, Microsoft is doing a fairly good job.
  • Have it in Croatia. Well to be honest, my MS account is set to UK if it means anything.
  • I've had the update for at least a week on my wp8 in New York City on my 820 on AT&T I actually noticed it when they first had an article about it here on wpcentral!
  • I'm in Jupiter Florida I noticed it last week too when I searched for a store and the number showed up below the different results. Its a welcomed addition
  • Is anyone else having problem with the photo side of search? Mine keeps saying can't get picture. You can try again. then i do try again and again and its still the same message.
  • Sometimes change is good
  • Curious how much the data saving measures will slow down the experience. 
  • I just want an update that disables the button completely.  I never use it and the only time it gets 'used' is when I accidentally hit it while I'm trying to do something else.
  • If you're not using Bing, you're missing out on a lot of the Windows Phone value proposition.  Maybe iPhone would suit you better.
  • Funny statement, since iOS 7 is supposed to be using Bing as the default search engine.
  • for only Siri if I remember correctly
  • I have an iPhone too, dont use Siri or search my phone on that either.
  • Not sure why anybody would be upset that I want an extra feature to be able to disable the button, wouldn't affect anyone except those that wanted to disable it and would make the phone even more customizable to a user's needs. Isn't part of the 'Windows Phone' experience supposed to be how personal the phone is and able to be tailored to my specific needs/wants? "That's me; and this MY Windows Phone."
  • Aw, hasn't hit my 920 on Long Island yet...
  • I noticed this yesterday, wasn't getting weather instant answer like I usually do, and there were fewer tabs. I think Bing is the biggest investment for WP because of instant answers like this or finding things quick. Can't wait for more of the updates to come in. One thing that I noticed from Windows Phone 7 to 8 is that city location doesn't come up as an instant answer.
  • Not sure if this is new but yesterday I noticed that you could use the command "Foursquare, check in"
    Really nice, and even for Twitter,.
  • Bing is still lame here in Germany :/
  • It's horrible everywhere, other than US, maybe?
  • Bing Rewards!!!!!
  • Bing suck, I try and use it but google gives better results
  • it actually is search term dependent. i did the bingiton challenge multiple times on the website, and Bing had roughly a 75% win rate. Some search terms work better in Google than others, and it all depends on who you as a person search for in the first place. Bing also seems to do the "did you mean [CORRECTED TERM]?","Including results for [CORRECTED TERM]", and "Searching for [CORRECTED TERM]" things a bit TOO proactively, sometimes including and searching for corrected results when you never misspelled or entered your original search term incorrectly in the first place.
  • What is the rest of the world? I'm sure Russia is missing.
  • "Instant Answers" and "Snapshots" seem to be a W.I.P. answer from Microsoft to Google's Knowledge Graph. And its about time.
  • Needs Bing Rewards.
  • Funny how when news of this was posted last week without a launch date, most of the people in the comments said they already had this..... sure ya did.
  • I can confirm the changes on my 920 on AT&T in Atlanta
  • Not good. I used to be able to force local search before. Bing is not good enough to recognize certain mismatches. For example, in Tampa, it recognizes Tampa International Airport and gives me directions but if I say Tampa Airport, I just get web results. This is going to be a bit of a painful transition. I thought the local search was one of the best implemented search results. Boy, I am going to miss it. Also, I do think google has better search results comparatively for local contexts but I hate Google. Change is sometimes for the better - I hope so in this case but lets see how it works going forward.
  • This is the kind of tighter integration of Microsoft services that can make the entire company more successful! More of this!
  • OK after some intial testing the "local" results only show up for major cities. I put in "restaurants in washington DC" and I get the map and a few business listings.
    I put in suburbs of washington DC (reston, va or alexandria, va) and I don't get the map or business listings. WTF!
    I always started with Bind search when I need to find a POI instead of going directly into a GPS/mapping app. Can't do that if local results are only provided for some cites and not all. This must be how our oversea's friends fee.
    So looks like MS borked the "Local" functionality or it's only half there and the rest of the US cities are coming later????
  • OK after some intial testing the "local" results only show up for major cities. I put in "restaurants in washington DC" and I get the map and a few business listings.
    I put in suburbs of washington DC (reston, va or alexandria, va) and I don't get the map or business listings. WTF!
    I always started with Bing search when I needed to find a POI instead of going directly into a GPS/mapping app. Can't do that if local results are only provided for some cites and not all. This must be how our oversea's friends feel.
    So looks like MS borked the "Local" functionality or it's only half there and the rest of the US cities are coming later????
  • I used the update over the weekend, while travelling, and noticed the same thing.  The local search is now a fraction of its former functionality.  I was in Miami and couldn't even use Bing to find a sushi restaurant.  It's just pretty much useless now for local searching.
  • While I like most of the changes, I do miss the map feature of the local section. If I wanted to check the hours of a business, it was nice to be able to pull up the info without going into a website. Now I have to go to a website a do a search on the companies page for there local stores and so forth. The only work around I have found is to just do the search in the map app which isn't bad, just takes away the simplicity the search key. Ok now I have played with it a little more and have had more luck with searching for something with my city included in the search(gas in Spokane). Hopefully when the whole thing is done I won't have to type in my location to get local results to pull first.
  • The new Bing seems to be bad on the image part
  • I hope MS update the bing panaroma feature to work outside the US - if you press the search button you get a single search page however if you change the browser search options to US (no restart needed) it will enable the panaroma feature.
    That was a killer feature for me, to have the ability to search for movies, get directions and times without the need for an app. Also this oddly enables sort by distance and opening times in local scout... which also disabled. However I'm content with this work around but some people will not be.
    So right now I'm using the Cineworld app (hooray for third part devs!) it works a treat and is always constantly updated to boot.
  • Instant answers for up-to-the-minute sports scores?
  • Damn you MS if you will screw up my local search results. Haven't had it more than a couple of months - but I love it! Always order pizza with Bing! :p
  • US only for now. MS just doesn't get it. Sigh...
  • Its been rolled out to mine since the first article on here. Verizon Lumia 928 in Arizona here.
  • Now all they have to do is add speech to the search results and people might stop complaining about a native Siri-alternative.
  • This is because with iOS 7 apple is using bing instead of Google so they really need to improve a lot of things.
  • nothing for other countries and languages, still only work for north america, that's why bing can't beat google services.
  • Does these updates update? automatically
  • Wonder if MS is updating this for the Netherlands and IF IT WORKS the way it should. Cause the regular Bing service sucks big time here. I love MS, but here they do little effort for us WP fans :(  And don't get me started on WP (or Windows 8/Surface) commercials. Or rather lack thereof...
  • This is going to be good. Atm the bing search on both my Lumia 800 and 920 is so bland and boring and sometimes gives up on itself so I have to resort to google.
  • Would have been great if tell me or what ever that voice / speech thing is called in windows phone 8 is seriously improved. Look at google now they caught up to Siri and are even better than Siri in some cases.
  • Breing able to turn of the bing search button would be a good start.
  • I am not getting any local search results like appear in the 5th photo of this article ("restaurants in seattle").  Now that the Local Pivot is gone and there are no local results returned, Bing for WP8 forces me to click on the website of the business I am hunting for.  Does anyone know why I receive no local listings on my Web Pivot?  It appears that MS has screwed this up, at least in my case.
  • Stop the BS PR on taking  Local search off Bing Mobile as a  "GOOD THING"
    Please tell the turth about Microsoft and AT&T and help us get back LOCAL search on Bing Mobile. It works great in the USA. Yes it takes up more time and Meg to download...?? But who cares?
    Why would any one think taking off  LOCAL, or SHOPPING was a good idea on a Phone Search? How do you find Phone #'s now?
    Did it go  bye bye,  for the same reason AT&T forced Microsoft to take of tethering years ago? These features were the best on my PHONE and made Microsoft and Bing Mobile better than  all others even...Bing, Google and Yahoo. 
    Think how you use a phone search engine .... isn't to find phone numbers, most of all?
    So how do you get a phone # now? Or find a local restaurant, store and businessvwith your built -in GPS. Try to find a restaurant's phone number, now on your Bing Mobile today!  Worse... try to call it.
    Now I have to use Microsoft Mobile Map APP.
    You'll see again how Microsoft took 3 steps backward to end up more steps behind the competition in phone..
    Help me help you!
  • I want the LOCAL results back ASAP!!!!!!