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Microsoft updates Bing's iPhone app

Trying to make a bigger splash on the iPhone, Bing's updated iPhone app now offers search results from social networks and from photos of bar codes and cover art.

Microsoft has tweaked its Bing iPhone app with a couple of new features, just in time for this week's debut of the iPhone 4.

The updated Bing app can tap into your social networks.
The updated Bing app can tap into your social networks. Microsoft

Taking a page from its browser-based cousin, the updated Bing app can now tap into your social networks to deliver relevant search results. Bing's new version 1.2 lets you connect to your own accounts on Facebook and Twitter to access the last six months' worth of updates from your friends and family.

You can search your social networks directly for specific subjects or names, or include them in your overall search results alongside the usual links to Web pages. To use the new social feature, you'll need to enter your Facebook and Twitter credentials. Bing will take several minutes to grab all the updates from the past half year.

Now when you search for something, such as a movie, you could see the latest show times along with comments by your Facebook and Twitter contacts, according to Bing's official blog. On the flip side, if you find a Web page you want to share with your friends and followers, you can do so through Facebook or Twitter without leaving Bing's mobile app.

In addition to the new social option, Bing 1.2 offers a visual scanning feature for iPhone users. Snap a photo of a bar code or a piece of cover art from a CD or video game, and Bing will track down product descriptions, reviews, prices, retail Web sites, and other relevant information, according to Microsoft.


Beyond these two core updates, you'll see new categories on Bing's mobile app home page, including Social, Directions, and Weather. The description of Bing's new version on iTunes also says the Shopping section has been expanded with new reviews, ratings, and prices, while the Movies section now offers more clips and trailers.

Bing's new 1.2 version is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad, though only the camera-equipped iPhone can take advantage of the visual scanning feature.

Bing's star has been on the rise at Apple. It was recently added as a search option on the iPhone just below Yahoo. Though earlier reports said Bing was on tap to replace Google as the iPhone's default search engine, Google still remains the default setting.

Apple is also gearing up to offer Bing as an option on the Mac and Windows versions of Safari and of course will launch the iPhone 4 this Thursday, giving Bing an even greater playing field.