To say that Google runs the biggest most successful search engine on the world wide web is so obvious it’s slightly ridiculous, so when Microsoft launched its search engine Bing I didn’t really envisage myself using it beyond the odd curious poke-around.
But having Binged (Bung?) for a few months now, I’m going to recommend Bing for anyone interested in visuals and graphics. It’s not just that the wallpapers on its home page are pretty pictures of seahorses and rainforests, it’s that the image and video searches are genuinely better.
Apparently several Bing functions are only available in the US, but we’ll compare the mutilated version we’ve got with Google in a quick run-down of key services.
Follow on after the jump
1. WEB SEARCH – Google wins
Obvious, but let’s start here
A simple thing: Bread
Very similar results, Wikipedia, images. Arguably Google has a slight edge for providing a wider variety of sources – newspapers etc.
An abstract concept: Selfless love
Bing – comes up with some weird short story about curd rice
Google – offers (slightly) more useful and analytical results
A slightly stupid question: Why does my foot hurt?
Bing – wants to tell me why my foot falls asleep, several results from Yahoo answers (always a mixed bag)
Google – again has the slight edge, and includes the surely crucial site www.whymyfoothurts.com
Since Bing bills itself as a decision engine rather than just a simple searcher, I thought I’d throw it an easy ball
A specific request for useful information: Good pubs to take your mum to in Manchester?
Really, neither Bing nor Google are much use on this.
2. IMAGE SEARCH – Bing wins
This is why I use Bing. You don’t just get the standard Google 15 results a page, but a scrollable page that contains many more images. ‘Infinite’ image scroll in fact, as Bing describes it. This is good. Who does click to the second page of Google image search? Only the desperate, and they are usually rewarded with some weird frankly useless stuff.
And I think images are better quality on Bing. More ‘interesting’ in the Flickr sense of the word. It’s also sensible to hide image data like the source and size until you roll your mouse over the picture. It means you can see more pictures and make aesthetic judgements more easily. My quibble with Bing Image search – the navigation is a bit tricky. Why is ‘back to results’ on the right-hand side of the page? That’s not intuitive.
3. VIDEO SEARCH – tie Bing/Google
Again Bing has a slight edge in the presentation of content and I really like the way videos start playing when you hover your mouse over them. Bing’s media player is good and its video results come from a wider range of sources including more from quality-focussed Dailymotion rather than just Youtube which obviously dominates the Google version. But until Bing rolls out its search-refining options to the rest of the world, Google will hold its own: the option to refine your search by length of video, video source and date posted is invaluable in some cases.
4. MAPS – Google wins
Yes, Google wins here. Bing maps are hosted by multimap. It’s not worse, it’s probably more accurate, it just feels less webby is is less intuitive to use. Their bird’s eye view is clear, but again somewhat static – you can only zoom in so far. Helpful little business tags are a little clunkier to use than on Google and there are no UGC photos. And no Street View of course.
5. NEWS, SHOPPING AND MORE – Google wins
I’ve come to love Google News and Shopping, and Bing doesn’t really compete. Google’s news service is clearer and better organised than Bing’s; and shopping – again Google wins. Bing has deputised its UK shopping arm out to a site called Ciao! It doesn’t feel integrated into the rest of the search engine and presentation is less clear.
Bing has decided not to compete with the full suite of Google searches (Scholar and Finance) and only offers news and shopping. Well in the UK anyway.
It’s own special little product xRank is interesting, and ranks celebs by how much they’ve been searched for. You may not be surprised to learn Michael Jackson tops the list. Good for when you want a list.
Bing flags itself as a decision engine. Extra little features which it uses to back up its claim include package and flight tracking. Apparently you can track the status of packages in transit if you enter a carrier and a order number and ditto for flights if you enter ‘flight status’ and a flight number. And it does maths sums for you. Interesting. But not deal-making.
So why should I use Bing?
For its image search, for browsing videos and for those searches where you don’t want to have the first obvious Google result. Otherwise, stick with Google for the basic web searches, the maps and the add-ons. IMO.