A decade and a half ago, one of the big attractions of using a service like Yahoo! was its directory listings: relevant links sorted into categories. These days, efficient search sites mean no-one cares about that kind of thing so much, but Bing’s newly launched Visual Search still feels a bit like that, only with pictures and somehow less useful.
Bing describes Visual Search in its press release as “a new search interface designed to visually enhance the search experience”. In practice, that means that it’s a collection of landing pages (described as “galleries”) with lots of results attached to pictures. Most of the themes are pretty celebrity-heavy, but there are results for top iPhone apps and top Windows 7 apps (no Android, which shows something of a Microsoft bias, let’s face it).
The big problem with this kind of “curated search” is that you’re reliant on the content being compiled by someone else, and the criteria is anything but clear. For instance, one of the options Visual Search offers is a list of top Twitter users in Australia, ranked by number of followers. The list includes people with more than 1,000 followers, but doesn’t include me. I mention that not because of my massive and rampant ego, but because it underlines that there’s no actually any clear criteria for how the results have been selected, even when it seems there are. (You can see Seamus, the publisher of all of our tech sites here at Allure, on the list.)
You can access Visual Search via the links below; if you perform a search where one of the “galleries” is relevant, a Visual Search tab will also appear in your results.
It all feels a bit pointless to me, to be honest. Give it a try and share your own experiences or handy tweaks in the comments.