Microsoft plans to deliver new tools in Bing Maps powered by mobile location service Foursquare. The Redmond, Wash. company's Silverlight technology will pull in the data.
Bing has begun to pay more attention to real-time, social and location-based data signals that can provide depth to search queries that serve up tips, comments and other information.
Enhanced location-based services and a variety of other features will become available during the next few months, as Microsoft continues to invest more in its mapping platform. Not just information from "maps" that show location, but a "canvas where you can visualize search data," Adam Sohn, Bing director for the Online Services Division, told MediaPost Thursday. "The concept is related to the notion that there's real data and information behind each search that often gets disaggregated from its physical context."
People searching for information on Bing will finally begin to see the fruits of labor from separate deals inked with Facebook and Twitter last year to deliver real-time data.
The ability to deliver real-time information based on a variety of signals means giving people who search for a particular news source, such as The New York Times, access to connect not only to the main site but to links of the most popular trending stories based on information shared across the Web. Sohn says it's a new way to generate traffic from the search engine to the publisher's site.
Microsoft also plans to enhance Quick Tabs on Bing, moving the tabs from the left rail to the top of the page. The feature aims to deliver results based on what the search engine believes represents the intent of the person searching on the query. The change also represents a new look for the user interface and hopefully a more intuitive way to search.
Bing's focus on "curating content," rather than "cataloging Web sites," supports Forrester Research Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk's vision for the future of search. "Think about a search engine as a concierge pointing you to answers you need, instead of presenting lists of sites that have content that matches your query," she says.
VanBoskirk points to the side and the top navigation capabilities. The features allow users to drill into categories of content related to their search without having to do a subsequent search, or click through to pages to see if the content matches their needs.
"I think the other enhancement that really illustrates this shift is the creation of comparison answers and domain task pages," VanBoskirk says. "These are literally aggregations of content, links, images, video specifically to answer the most commonly search goals associated with different topics. Instead of having to scout through multiple pages, content sources, using multiple queries, Bing curates all of what they think the searcher is after into one page."
Thursday marked the beginning of Bing's spring release. Microsoft will experiment, test and roll out these features during the next several months.