In addition to the newly announced Wolfram Alpha integration, the Bing Search Team is also launching a number of new features that live up to Bing’s promise of being a “decision” engine and not just a search engine. These features include improvements to their travel, weather, and shopping options as well as the “previews” feature which are the little sidebar pop-ups that appear when you hover your mouse over a search result. Combined, these improvements represent a major step forward for the new search engine, even leading some to dub the offering “Bing 2.0.”
Improved Travel Features
Travel is already one of Bing’s more useful capabilities thanks to an acquisition of a company called Farecast whose service helps travelers determine the best time to fly in order to get the best price. Now travel searches will be even easier. Once rolled out, you’ll be able to hover over the “Travel” link on the homepage to get a pop-up task-focused menu with options to “search flights,” “search hotels,” or “get airfare deals.”
There will also be a new interactive Instant Answer where you can enter in your origin, destination, and dates into the boxes provided in order to find airfare deals courtesy of Bing Travel. Alongside travel booking-related results, information on the area you’re traveling to will also be made available including local attractions, points of interest, neighborhoods and other local information sources like newspaper web sites. There will even be high-resolution photo slideshows of your destination.
While the previews feature itself is not new, it’s about to get a major update. The new previews will extract information from the associated web page. For example, a business listing’s preview may show an address and phone number. Another preview may extract a “contact us” email address. Previews will also now include a screenshot of that web page and popular links on the site. Previews for Facebook pages will show the person’s photo and links to message them or send a friend request.
New Event Searches
Another new feature is event searches. To use this, just type in the name of a city and then the word “events.” Bing will return a summary of events which you can filter by categories like performances, civic activities, music, and more. This will be an option for major cities only for now.
Bing Shopping has also been improved to offer built-in sharing features. Each product listing will include a share feature that lets you send a link to that product over Facebook, Twitter, or via email. Not only can you use this to share your interest in a product, you could also quickly post it to these social services along with a question you hope your friends might know the answer to.
Better Answers for Health Conditions, Medications, and Hospitals
The search results for health conditions, medications, and hospitals have also been improved to provide more information and better organized results. There are one box answers as well as site-search boxes for querying within a hospital’s website.
Believe it or not, these are just “some” of the new features coming to Bing. There are tons of other updates still in the works, according to the blog post about these changes.
You may not be seeing these results just yet – the rollout is expected to take a few weeks before it’s complete.