Oneupweb Reviews: Bing’s Visual Search (Beta)

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Bing’s Visual Search displays images in a way that simplifies both finding and researching products. It lives up to the Bing tagline, “Bing and Decide.”

In a way, searching visually on Bing is like customizing your very own digital store window display. Imagine seeing every new car you could ever want in one place, complete with MSRP pricing, user ratings, expert ratings and safety ratings.

With this layout, Bing lets me quickly eliminate all the ugly, unsafe cars that I can’t afford (if only Internet dating was this easy). Sorting options let me zero in on new cars that are more eco-friendly, get great gas mileage or are most popular on Bing. This ability to sort images in a meaningful way is found throughout all 39 categories, including the i-Phone apps category.

Developers who complain about their more expensive apps being buried behind hundreds of free and 99 cent apps in the i-Tunes store will appreciate how this search engine organizes images. Potential customers have an opportunity to find your $10 app by sorting through app categories such as “most expensive,” “top 10 paid apps” and even by publisher.

Once you’ve chosen the car, app or phone of your dreams, Bing shows a traditional results page that takes you to sites where you can find more information. However, it doesn’t necessarily point you the page where you can buy that new car, popular i-Phone app, or in my case, book a trip to Berlin this December.

I’ve read various blog posts about how Bing Visual Search may boost travel by helping users more effectively sort pictures of various destinations. So I decided that would be my next query—finding some place cool to visit.

What’s truly awe-inspiring is that you can sort images of destinations based on which months are best for travel in that particular area. I decided I would conduct a search on the best places to escape winter in Michigan.

After sorting through images of various places, I end up narrowing my results to include only images of Berlin. And from there, I find a particular landmark that’s interesting, so I click on it expecting historical and travel information. What I got was one German blog post that I couldn’t read.

Most results with Bing Visual Search offer more than just one blog post, so this is just one wrinkle that needs ironing out before this product comes out of Beta.

To be effective, Visual Search should guide your results. If I click on a picture of a monument in Berlin, I expect a variety of results that give me information related to that picture. In other words, give me a travel agent site, a travel blog that focuses on a person’s experience traveling to see that monument and other pertinent information in a language I can understand.

Besides consistently ensuring universal search results, there’s an opportunity to add additional categories for search that could either help or harm the overall user experience. It will be interesting to see how Bing Visual Search evolves to address these issues.

To conclude, while there is room for improvement and questions left unanswered, Bing is off to a great start at living up to its tagline. Do you agree? Post your experiences with Visual Search in the comments.

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