In October 2012, Microsoft launched four Bing apps on Windows 8; News, Weather, Finance, and Sports. Less than one year later, in August 2013, those apps made their way to Windows Phone with a mobile-optimized design.
One of the most popular of the bunch, at least from the Windows Phone app store reviews is Bing News. The app tackles the top headlines of each day, and lets you personalize your news experience by choosing specific topics of interest and news sources to follow. From my testing, it lives up to its hype.
Getting the news
Bing News gets its news stories from two kinds of sources: publications that partnered with the Bing team to bring content into the app and publications that didn't. ABC News, Fox News, The Guardian, Reuters, AP, and Bloomberg are a few of those content partners. When you open an article from one of these sources, it loads in the app's reader, where you can adjust the font size and style.
The sources that partnered with the app also get specially designed pages in the app that highlight their latest articles, videos, and photo galleries. I really enjoyed those special pages, because they are well-organized and easy to browse.
Bing News also includes news from more than 100 popular news outlets spanning global and local news, technology, entertainment, and sports, that didn't team up with Bing to deliver their content. When you open an article from these sources, it will load in your phone's browser, forcing you to leave the app. This was irritating.
When you open the app, you're greeted by a full-screen photo that matches the top news story of the moment and that story's headline. That article changes every few hours or when there's breaking news.
If you pin Bing News to your start screen, the live tile will show the same top news story with the photo and flip to reveal the headline.
Just to the right of the top story screen is a list of latest headlines, separated by popular news categories, including business, sports, technology, and world news. Each category only has four stories, so you don't get overwhelmed by too much news. At the bottom of the screen, there are buttons to reorder the categories and delete ones you don't want to see.
In addition to reading the top news stories, you can also watch popular news videos from selected sources in the video menu. The video quality wasn't spectacular, but it did play easily.
Topics and sources
There are two sections of the app that give you a chance to personalize your news experience: sources and topics. In the sources section of the app, you create a list your favorite news outlets. From there, you can tap on a source to see a list of stories from the last 24 hours.
ABC News, Fox News, The Guardian, Reuters, AP, Bloomberg, and Gizmodo are the default sources, but you can add any of the outlets in the app to your list by tapping the magnifying glass icon. You cannot add a source that is not already in the app.
The topics section is similar to sources, except you create a list of news topics to follow from any source available online. To add a new topic, you can search by vague or specific keyword -- I chose "cooking," "US Congress," and "nail art" -- and the app uses Bing search to hunt for any relevant news stories all over the Web. The article results were remarkably accurate, especially for more specific keywords like "Microsoft."
Like I mentioned before, articles in the app from news sites that didn't team up with Bing News will automatically open in Internet Explorer. Unfortunately on the topics page, every article you open also loads in Internet Explorer, even if the article comes from a source that partnered with the app. That was disappointing, because I didn't want to leave the app and then have to go back to read another story.
Searching for topics was the only part of the app that was noticeably slow. Suggested topics took several seconds to pop up while I was typing in the search bar and after I picked a topic to add to my list, it took several more seconds for the app to complete the request.
Bing News delivers the must-know news of the moment with a clean and pleasing design. The app updates frequently to stay on top breaking news and brings top stories to your start screen with a helpful live tile. It also sports a few ways to personalize the stories you see and hide away what you don't want to read.
Thanks to the app's stable performance, balance of major breaking news, and several options to find the content that matches your tastes, Bing News is well worth the free download.