Microsoft updates Bing for mobile browsers

Because the updates use HTML 5, Android and iPhone users will benefit, but not Windows Phone 7 users

Microsoft on Wednesday rolled out some updates to its Bing for Mobile browser service including real-time public transportation updates for select cities and the inclusion of apps in results when searching on the iPhone.

Most of the updates are available for iPhone and Android users, but not Microsoft's own Windows Phone 7 customers. That's because the services are built using HTML 5, which Windows Phone 7 doesn't yet support. The company has promised an update later this year that will include an HTML 5 browser for Windows Phone 7 devices.

As part of the Bing update, users who visit m.bing.com can click on directions and on the bus icon in order to see how to take the bus or other public transportation to their destination. In addition, users will be able to click on the bus route for real-time details about when a bus will arrive.

The real-time data is available for Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Microsoft already offers directions for using public transportation in its Bing app for iPhone, but that feature wasn't available in the browser version.

Google Maps on the iPhone shows transit routes, but not necessarily real-time information about buses.

When using Bing to search, iPhone users will now get results for relevant iPhone apps in addition to the normal search results. "This is a great way to serendipitously discover great new apps," Andy Chu, director of product management for Bing for Mobile, wrote in a blog post about the updates.

Microsoft also made Image Search faster and smoother and re-organized the shopping feature in the Bing mobile browser app, he said. When searching for movies, users will now find the results organized by time and nearest theater, in addition to reviews, trailers and other information.

In addition, he said that when users start typing a city name into the weather search bar, the weather for that city will appear even before they are finished typing the name.

Chu wrote that the updates were launched today, but they do not appear to be available yet everywhere.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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Nancy Gohring

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