Last week, Bing unveiled some new changes to its search interface, including greater social integration, and a social pane on the right-hand side, showing results from your Facebook friends and "people who know" from Twitter. Bing calls this pane "sidebar".
There are other interesting features in this pane, such as the ability to share specific search results to your Facebook friends. For example, if you want to show your friends a certain band that you like, you can search for that band, and share all the links you from the search results you want to share, by clicking a link button that appears next to each result.
"With sidebar, Bing brings together the best of the web, with what experts and your friends know, giving you the confidence to act," says Bing VP Derrick Connell. "This new way to search lets you share, discover, and interact with friends like you do in real life. If you’re on the go, you’ll notice we’ve optimized the layout and placement of the social results on the mobile device for smaller screen sizes and for touch input, so the user experience will be different than what people see on a PC."
"You may not always see friends you expect to show up for a number of reasons," Connell notes. "Bing uses public Facebook information and content you’ve given Bing permission to use, such as friends' photos on Facebook. We won’t match friends based on other Facebook content such as status updates or check-ins. Bing also respects you and your friends' privacy settings so you won't see friends who have opted out of Facebook instant personalization or blocked the Bing app."
Unfortunately, this functionality isn't present on Bing's image search results pages or its video search results pages. People like to share videos and images, so it seems like these would be good places for such functionality. Perhaps even more so than regular search results. I wouldn't be surprised to see such feature appear in the future.
If you're in the U.S., you can go to bing.com/new, and access the new Bing. You can also go to Bing.com, and you should see a notification about it, prompting you to check it out.
One might view Bing's new socially-focused design as an aim at Google's recently launched Search Plus Your World social search features. Google's Amit Singhal said at a conference this week, by the way, that those results have improved clickthrough rates on search results.
Bing does clearly have a major advantage on the social search side of things, with Facebook and Twitter integration, not present in Google's offerings.
According to Experian Hitwise, Bing.com searches in the U.S. were up 6% in April month-over-month. They were up 16% year-over-year. Google was down 3% month-over-month and 5% year-over-year.