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Bing update adds Facebook friend photos to search results

Bing is turning its search engine into a one-stop-shop for your every social need, having announced the integration of Facebook friends' photos into your results.

The Microsoft-owned search engine now lets users quickly find any particular picture they're looking for – be it a photo from last summer's family reunion, or a snapshot of the sun setting behind a favourite city skyscraper.

If you don't have a specific image in mind, the new Friends' Photos feature also allows users to simply browse through Facebook friends' collections.

Bing's social sidebar, launched in May, already showcases friends who have posted photos relating to queries. Based on photo title, album description, or caption, this feature theoretically makes it easier to know who to pump for information about an upcoming vacation or the best restaurant to stop at on road trip. And that's not all it's good for for, according to the Bing team.

"With today's release, we are taking this a step further and letting you search and browse your Facebook friends' photos right in Bing," Social Team senior program manager Ian Lin wrote in a blog entry.

By clicking on a photo in the Bing sidebar, users are redirected to a new page where more images are displayed. From there, they can also search for additional pictures, or browse friends' latest shots.

Lin promised that Bing respects all of Facebook's privacy settings, allowing only acknowledged friends to see the photos that you have made viewable, and vice versa. Your photos will never be shared with the public, according to the company.

The social sidebar made its debut just before Microsoft introduced a major revamp of Bing. Last month, the company added the ability for users to tag a friend in a query in a now familiar attempt by search and social firms to extract added information about people using such services.