In the late 1990s and early 2000s, everyone wanted to have a web portal that would provide its users with everything they could possibly need: Email, news, reference material, and more. The idea was to attract and keep attention on a one-stop shop. The portal concept morphed into creating a rich family of services that worked together to, again, attract and keep attention on a set of web properties and, more recently, mobile apps.
Microsoft’s new Bing for iPad is a free app that may bring back the one-stop shop concept because, quite honestly, it does a good job of getting your attention and keeping it.
The app opens with the big Bing photo of the day that you see on Bing’s main web page with a search box at the top of the display. But, then, you’ll notice the category tiles lining the bottom of the display. These are dynamic live tiles that change every few seconds and provides an indication that Windows Phone 7′s Metro UI live tiles may have influenced its design.
The app provides content in the form of search trends, weather, news, maps, movies, images, videos, shopping, and your own recent search history.
I especially liked the news page that displays rows of tiled news items which rows defining categories of news like U.S., World, Business, and Sci/Tech.
An interesting design touch in the app is the ability to swipe away recent actions (viewing news, for example). This provides an easy way to navigate backwards through your content choices.
Finally, like many mobile apps these days, Bing for iPad provides a voice search capability. Tap the microphone icon at the top of the display and say what you are looking for. I initially ran into errors on every voice search attempt. However, tests a few hours later worked as expected. If you make multiple searches, you can swipe near the top of the screen to navigate backwards through your searches.
I’ve found the app to be very useful. In fact, I promoted its icon to live on my iPad’s main screen where my most frequently used apps reside.