There has been a bunch of chatter over the past few days about search allowing you to directly take an action using an application based on your query. That’s great because a quarter of all apps are downloaded but never used again. The question we asked over a year ago is how we could use search and the sensors on your devices to figure out what application might be able to help you get something done, not just do more searches.
For the past year, we have been working hard to help you discover and use contextually relevant apps directly within your device search experience. With Windows Phone we introduced a way to surface apps within search results giving you a deeper entryway into what you might be trying to accomplish. Today there are over three hundred apps that will surface for a given search. We do this in a variety of ways.
First if you explicitly search for an app, say “Angry Birds” we’ll give you the option to download that app directly from the results. Secondly, if you search for something where we think an app might be useful we will show you a list of relevant apps. For instance, if you’re searching for “best buy” we’ll show you apps that could help you get there on public transit or help you find it when you get close, like Nokia City Lens. Finally, when we have high confidence in what you’re trying to get done like making reservations at a restaurant or buy a movie ticket we’ll link those actions directly from the search results.
With the launch of Windows 8.1 we are expanding this notion with Bing Smart Search. Now when you search we also display deep links of information that might be available in a given app. For example, if you’re searching for New York City we’ll not only show you beautiful full bleed images and top web results but we’ll also display the option to open that result within the Wikipedia app, Bing Maps app or within the Bing Travel app. With one click, you have a contextually relevant result opening within a rich app experience.
For people looking to get more done this is a great thing because it opens up a universe of utility that has been historically unreachable. For app developers, this underscores Microsoft’s DNA as a platform company giving you an easy way to help people find your app.
So while other folks are just setting forth, we’re pleased to keep driving forward on the next stage of app search.
– The Bing Team