Microsoft unloaded a dump truck's worth of changes on its Bing service earlier today, and some of the real gems to come out of the lot are the updates to Bing mobile.
New to the company's iPhone app--and soon other mobile iterations of Bing--are two very visually impressive, and downright useful additions: a Streetside viewer for local maps, and something called Bing Vision, which adds a way for users to pick out specific words from photos to create a customized Web search.
Missing from the update but headed to the app in a future release is the real bit of eye candy: panoramas. If you've ever used Occipital's 360 Panorama app, the idea Microsoft has put into place is pretty similar. You move your phone around and it captures multiple images together into one panorama you can come back and view later.
Though unlike Occipital's app, Bing users will have to manually snap shots to have them get stitched together by the software. This necessity ends up giving users a little bit more control when waiting for someone to walk in or out of the frame. Another big difference from competitors is what Microsoft intends to do with the imagery once users have captured it.
In Microsoft's own words, it's crowd-sourcing that data, and is in the process of giving anyone with a smartphone a way to get involved. Users can either save a panorama and store it away, or they can upload it for others to see. The options for sharing will include social networks and Bing Maps at large. This, along with a partnership with Everyscape will give businesses and individuals the means to add interior or exterior imagery to the service.
CNET got a few minutes following today's announcements to chat with Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Microsoft's architect of Bing Maps and Bing Mobile, who gave us a demo of the new features. In the video below we get a brief look at the new panorama maker, as well as Streetside view and Bing Vision--both of which came as part of today's version 2.0 software update. The panorama maker itself was not a part of that update.