Review – Bing App for the iPhone (Updated)

Microsoft have now released a Bing iPhone app that allow you to use the Microsoft services from your iPhone. The app itself is actually a few apps in one with a launching pad to numerous Bing services:

  • Standard Search (Voice or Text)
  • Image Search
  • Movies
  • Maps (and directions)
  • Business
  • News

Home Screen

The home screen is very much like the home pages you see on http://bing.com however the photos have been optimised for the smaller screen resolution. If you press the “6 pack” button at the bottom then it hides the search buttons and you get hover hot spots like the main web page.
 
Home Screen  

Bing iPhone App Home Screen  

Navigation Controls

The navigation buttons are always present when you are navigating in the app. The home button is very useful for coming back to the launch screen and the simple navigation buttons are also nice. My only complaint was that the back button is next to the home button so it is really easy to press the wrong button.

I have to also wounder if this application is also a preview of the look and feel for applications running on Windows Mobile 7.

App Navigation Controls  

Possible Windows Mobile 7 Navigation Control

Search

The search feature works as expected you tap in the search bar up the top and you start to type. You also start to see search results as you type.

Search as you type results Search Results

Bing iPhone App search as you type results Bing iPhone App Search Results

Search (Voice)

Next the the search bar you see a microphone that can be used to perform a voice search via BING. Press the button and just start to say what you want to search then press done when you have finished talking.

Voice Search Listening Voice Search Thinking

Bing iPhone App Voice Search Listening Bing iPhone App Voice Search Thinking

Now if you are not in the USA after a few seconds of thinking the app will crash and dumps you back to the home screen for now if you change you region setting of the iPhone to the United States it will work. When you do this voice searching will then work and searching for terms like "PIZZA" work really well. Microsoft have come out and said that they will be releasing a fix for this soon.

Images

As expected the image search allows you to search for images via BING. I tried searching for my name and was happy to find that a photo of me came up first… The image search results also faded in nicely as the phone loaded the images.

Image Search  

Bing iPhone App Image Search

Movies

I can only assume this is an USA only feature for now as when I select this option I immediately get a “We did not find any results for Movies” popup. Hopefully localised Australian information of the movie times will be coming soon.

Movies Search  

Bing iPhone App Movies Search

Maps

This certainly looks a lot like the Silverlight map web application that Microsoft recently released on the http://bing.com web site. The maps have integrated the  seadragon deep zoom technology which makes the whole experience very smooth. The map has full multi pinch to zoom and GPS support. The settings for the map are very similar to those seen on the included Google map app in the iPhone. I do wonder what the “Shaded” view  is as this seems to be no different to the “Road” map view.

Map  

Bing iPhone App Map

BING maps settings screen compared to the inbuilt Google maps setting screen. Very similar.

Bing iPhone App Map Settings iPhone Map Settings

Bing iPhone App Map SettingsIMG_0553[1]

Businesses

This option for searching for different types of business near your location but again it seems that there is no localised data for Australia for it to use yet.

Business Search – Restaurants  

Bing iPhone App Restaurants

News

This option was another a disappointment as when you launch it you are immediately presented with the “We did not find any results for (null)” message box. Not sure if this is also an issue for just Australian users but the error message is less than graceful.

News Search  

Bing iPhone App News Search

Directions

Again this seems to mirror very closely the inbuilt Google map app however you launch this separately from the “Directions” option from the home screen.

Another disappointment here as the search feature will only direct you to the suburb instead of the exact address that you typed into to the search. What I really don’t like about this is that it does not warn you that it is not sending you to the exact address just to a random point in the middle of the suburb….

Directions  

Bing iPhone App Search Directions    

Bing Directions iPhone native app Directions

Bing iPhone App Directions iPhone native app Directions

Just like Microsoft releasing Photosynth for the iPhone and licensing active sync they continue to demonstrate that they are willing to compete by innovation and not by exclusion. This makes me wounder how long it will be until we see Microsoft Zune App for the iPhone.

Overall

This is a really nice looking app and it is great to have an alternative to the inbuilt iPhone/Google apps. Its buggieness can be forgiven as this is Microsoft first really shot at making a mainstream iPhone app and this only needs to have a updated version deployed to fix the voice record issues. However it is really dissapoininting that a lot of the feauters dont work in Australia and what Microsoft really needs to do is get the localised services for Australia up and running ASAP.

UPDATE: Looks like these issues are going to be fixed soon as Microsoft have come out and said they will be soon fixing the issues of the voice search crashing outside the USA and enable the ability perform searchs outside of the USA. 

If you want to try it out you can install the app right now from this iTunes Link for free.

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Try Silverlight 4 for the iPhone right now

One of the new products that Microsoft announced at PDC 09 was the beta release of Silverlight 4. What has since come out is that Silverlight 4 will now offer support for the iPhone (kinda). Microsoft has been committed to making Silverlight as cross-platform as possible however Apple don’t allow applications such as Adobe Flash or Silverlight as this would allow people to bypass the application store and run what ever application they want. So to get around Apple’s restriction Microsoft’s the Microsoft User Experience Platform Manager Brian Goldfarb has said “We worked with Apple” to enabled Silverlight on the server to stream video natively to the iPhone.

The really nice thing about this is you can checkout just how nice it work right now at http://www.iis.net/iphone

Silverlight iPhone

Silverlight video on iPhone

Source: Microsoft ‘worked with Apple’ for Silverlight on iPhone, says Goldfarb

HTC Snap Firmware update for Windows Mobile 6.5 (Telstra) now available

imageThe firmware update for the HTC Snap from Telstra is now out on the HTC Australian support website Here . The firmware update process is straight forward and it take about 10 minutes to flash the device. As this device is only Windows Mobile standard the look and feel of the phone actually has not changed much and the UI with Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard already had the horizontal and vertical home screen. Two noticeable additions to the phone is that it now has myPhone and Windows Mobile Marketplace programs included with the OS. MyPhone enable users to backup the phone over the air and also find and/or wipe the device remotely if they were to ever lose the phone. The Windows Mobile Market place applications allows users to download applications over the air much like the iPhone App Store however right now there are not many applications that are support on the Windows Mobile Standard OS.

Amazon Kindle comes to Australia

IMG_0299 A work colleague (Chaitanya Gurrapu) has just got his International Amazon Kindle and has unboxed it in the office. My first impression of the device is that the screen is very clear and the device is quite solid. The Kindle and leather bounded case cost about $350 delivered. What is really interesting is that the wireless 3G connectivity that comes with the device has no monthly subscription cost and no download cost as the overhead is already factored into the cost of buying the books online. He has not even had the device un-boxed for more than 30 minutes and he is already download his first book.

If you want one too you can order then from http://www.amazon.com and they will even associate the device with you Amazon account for you so there is no setting up the device out of the box. NICE

image

Windows Mobile 6.5 ROM upgrade for HTC Snap (Telstra – Australia) OUT NOW

image For those of you who won a HTC Snap at TechEd Australia 2009 (like me) or for anyone else who has bough one, HTC has now released the Windows Mobile 6.5 ROM upgrade. Kudos to HTC and Telstra for taking a little over two weeks to release the custom ROM for the device. In conjunction to Windows Mobile 6.5 Microsoft has now released the Windows Mobile Marketplace that allows user to purchase application on the phone and download them directly to the device. Microsoft has also released new features in myPhone that allows users to remotely find and/or wipe their phones without having to pay for a really expensive annual subscription.

Will start to review the upgrade process and the new features in the coming days….

Download it now from: ROM upgrade (WM6.5) for HTC Snap (Telstra)

Microsoft Tablet “Courier” is made by the descendants of Battlestar Galatica

ken-hawryliw-2 500x_courier8 Did you notice the in the photos of the new Microsoft Tablet device called the “Courier” that the corners of the device look like they are cut at 45 degrees. This is very reminiscent from all the books seen the TV series BattleStar Galactica and the new series about to be show called Caprica which is coming out January next year. Maybe Microsoft are trying to suggest that in technologically advanced societies that everything will need to have cut corners.

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Microsoft’s iPad/iTablet killer “Courier” is closer that you might think

500x_courier8 Looks like Microsoft is getting close to releasing a two page 7inch notepad and got the jump on Apple by releasing photos and a video. If Microsoft can put this device together for release in the first half of next year then they will truly have an impressive product. AWSOME!!

Source: Courier: First Details of Microsoft’s Secret Tablet – Microsoft courier tablet – Gizmodo

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