The iPad gained a very valuable information portal today in the form of a new application from Bing which has impressed me a great deal. What is different about this software is it borrows from other well-designed apps and isn’t afraid to throw in its own improvements and graphically appealing glue to tie it all together.
When you enter the app you are presented with the Bing image of the day and underneath the graphic are widgets which give you information about the weather, news, maps, movies, trends and finance. Many of these areas update, making this program a truly functional portal.
You also have access to other information presented when you click at the top right of the menu. Some of these are repeats of the bottom widgets but items like images, shopping and history are unique.
I’ve always been a fan of the Bird’s Eye view of Bing Maps and you can use your iPad to pinch and zoom your way around the map like you would a mouse on a PC. One limitation however is that Google Earth on the iPad allows you to rotate your map orientation with your two fingers on the map but Bing restricts you to having to press two buttons which allow you to rotate 90 degrees to the left or right.
The movies tab is interesting in that it takes an Amazon Windowshop approach to displaying titles. What I mean by this is you swipe your finger to the left or right to see movies with the accompanying graphics. It truly provides a superior movie search experience showing local theaters, previews and photos from the movie as well as excerpts of reviews.
The news portion of the application is impressive as well with an interface which is inviting and multi-layered meaning you can swipe left to get back to the previous screen. It is a little confusing as sometimes you can swipe back and forth to see prior screens and sometimes you can’t. But overall, this is slick interface and something almost on par with the Wall Street Journal iPad app in terms of functionality but with a more slick GUI.
I was thrilled to see Tellme speech recognition built into the app as I have known the company well for over a decade but sadly, after trying to speak 10 different terms it wasn’t able to understand a single thing I said clearly. This is where Google’s incredible spell-check system gives it major edge.
I’ve tried countless graphical news readers and a few which I like a lot are Flipboard and Zite but for whatever reason I keep reverting back to my simple Google Reader and my slew of XML feeds when scouring for the latest news. I do find when I have more time I tend to dabble with the more graphically rich programs.
The original premise of this piece is this app is like Hotel California – You can check out any time you want but you can never leave. And I do believe that is exactly what we are seeing here… An app which does so much in such a graphically pleasing fashion that users may have a tough time leaving. It isn’t just the interface, it is the curated data coupled with the seamless interconnection between the pieces. A couple missing items are are social and email but for most other informational needs, I think the new Bing for iPad app hits the nail on the head.