Microsoft’s Bing Comes to iOS 4

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When rumors of a pending iOS search deal between Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) started circulating this year, it seemed like a long shot Bing was about supplant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) as the default iOS search engine. But politics makes for strange allies and as the gulf between Apple and Google widened as the year wore on, Bing as the default iOS search started seeming like more and more of a possibility. With yesterday’s announcement of the inclusion of Bing in iOS as an option, not the default, we get yet another example of the Apple rumor machine giving us a partial truth mixed liberally with wild speculation.

Simply including Bing alongside Google and Yahoo! in MobileSafari instantly raises its exposure and credibility. Bing has earned some quiet praise for unique features like Visual Search and bringing those capabilities to the iOS natively should greatly enhance the user experience. In talking about Bing’s inclusion, Jobs offered his own praise for the search engine. Lauding the Bing team’s implementation of the search engine on the mobile device, the Apple chief spoke to the search engine’s use of HTML5. While stopping short of drawing comparisons between Google and Bing, he did seem to indicate his pleasure with the new option. Now that Bing is a native option it’s unclear whether Microsoft will discontinue its current iOS app but it seems likely it will maintain both, much like Google and Yahoo! do now. As with a lot of things in the iOS environment, native apps provide an outlet for increased function that can’t be replicated in a browser search results page.

What do you think of the inclusion of Bing in iOS 4? Is this an attempt to provide the user more choice or to tweak Google in the ongoing war between Cupertino and Mountain View? Is this the beginning of an unforeseen detente between Apple and Microsoft? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

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