Sunday, November 22, 2009

These are a Few of My Favorite Bings...

I am hands down a Google girl. I can't imagine life without Gmail, iGoogle, G-chat, Google Reader, Blogger, AdWords... You get the picture. I love Google.

I have, however, been impressed with some of the new features that Bing has rolled out in the past few months. Here is a run-down of my top 5 Bing tools.

5. Bird's Eye View

Like Google, Bing offers Aerial View in the mapping portion of the site. While this in and of itself is quite impressive and fun to play around with, Bing goes one step further to offer Bird's Eye View. Bird's Eye View is similar to Aerial View, but offers much greater detail to the images. See the difference with Chicago's Millennium Park below.

Aerial View:

Bird's Eye View:

The clarity with Bird's Eye view is astounding. It is also a fun tool to play around with. For example, I am currently on the hunt for sick rooftop patios. More to come on that!

4. Exploration

Bing also takes an interesting approach to inspire exploration through their homepage. Everyday, Bing features a new place of interest to highlight on their homepage. The images contain hidden fun facts which appear when the mouse runs over a point. The facts often cover the history, traditions, and imagery of the location. Bing offers users the option to learn more, which leads viewers to another page within the Bing website.

If you click on the "Want to see?" link, it will lead to to Bing image results for "aurora borealis".

I'm a huge fan of user engagement, and Bing certainly accomplishes that with it's homepage. It will be interesting to see how this develops as Bing rolls out new features. It could also be an unique tool for advertisers if Bing ever opens the platform up for advertising space.

3. Continuous Scroll

It's often the small things in life that can make a huge impact. One of my favorite features on Bing is their continuous scroll. There are no individual pages, and therefore no need to click the "next" button. The images literally keep going and going and going. Give your finger a break and test it out yourself.

2. Video Play

Everywhere I look, it seems that people are turning towards video. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not a huge fan of this video craze. Unless it is something that must been seen to be believed, I'd prefer to just read an article and then seek out a video if necessary.

Then, there is also the issue of selecting a video, waiting for it to load, and then realizing it wasn't quite what you were looking for. Bing Video saves user's time and frustration by allowing visitor's to view the video clip with sound and within the search results by scrolling over the video clip with your mouse. That way, if you don't select the right video the first time, you don't have to waste your time going back and re-selecting another potentially wrong clip.

1. Price Prediction

The Bing Price Prediction is hands down my favorite tool. It works like many other trip planner tools, but the Bing Price Prediction provides users with the probability of the price either rising or falling in the next few days. Bing Price Prediction allows users to book their fights with confidence. My one complaint? Southwest is not included in the airlines listed.

Similarly, Bing's Rate Indicator works to show user's if they are getting a deal on their hotel reservation or not.

I will certainly be keeping an eye out for the new features that Bing is sure to roll out in the near future. So far, I am quite impressed with Bing's progression and it just goes to show how competitive the search landscape is. Google, you better start stepping it up...

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