With the Bing app for Android, Microsoft is attempting to overcome the difficult challenge of enticing Android users to use their search rather than Google. Microsoft’s answer to the challenge is a standalone app that is graphically appealing and provides an easy way to search for things near one’s location.
A new version of the Bing app for Android is now available, and as you can see in the screen shot, the UI is noticeably different. Windows Phone users might recognize the large fonts, lower case, and scrolling list because it is very much like the Windows Phone UI. You simply slide your finger up and down on the screen to scroll through the list and then tap the option you desire.
One big way that Bing stands out on both the web and their Android app is by displaying beautiful pictures in the background. Bing definitely stands out from the minimal display of Google’s home page. The pictures include hot areas that you tap to see information and execute queries relating to the picture, and to see those hot areas you need to tap the picture, which causes the menu to disappear so you only see the picture.
Tapping to display the picture highlights one thing I dislike about the Bing app, it doesn’t properly use the Android back button. If you are displaying the picture and tap Back, the app closes. If you are in search results tapping the Back button causes nothing to happen, to return to the Bing home screen you need to tap the Bing button at the top left of the screen.
Microsoft’s relationship with Facebook is very evident in the Bing app. If you want to share the Bing picture that day, tap Menu, Share, to write a comment and then share a thumbnail of the picture, with a link to Bing, in Facebook. In a similar manner, you can share any search result in Facebook by tapping the Share On Facebook link that appears on the search result page.
The Bing app is free and is available now in the Android Market.