Bing and Google have very different philosophies when it comes to search interface design. Google is famously minimal - for the most part, it's a white page, the company logo and a search box. Conversely, Bing is loud and proud - beautiful pictures, videos and colours, creating a welcoming portal to the web.
Today, Microsoft is taking its search page to a new level. Besides seeing the beautiful scenes, you can now hear them too.
"Every day, the Bing homepage brings you a new view of the world. We strive to inspire the spirit of exploration and the joy of discovery. Over time, we've evolved the way we tell stories about our world. In 2011, we released our first HTML5 video homepage. The following year, we enabled users to dive deeper with an interactive panoramic homepage. Then our fans shared that they would love to hear rushing waterfalls, distinct animal calls, or waves lapping the shores of a faraway beach when they see these evocative images on Bing", says The Bing Team
The team also says, "when you visit us for your daily dose of surprise and delight, look for the audio icon on the bottom-right of screen to know if you can hear the homepage that day - sound is off by default so you can choose when and where to listen. If you want to learn more about today's video and the geese calls captured by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, click on the camera icon, also on the bottom-right. This will take you to Bing's Backstage, where we give you more information about the daily image".
If you are like me, the first concern you had is that the sound would be on by default. Thankfully, users will have to manually turn the audio on. Why is this important? If you are trying to work quietly, auto-playing audio can embarrass you at a meeting or wake a sleeping loved one.
I really like that this is not just a silly gimmick, but an enhancement to the overall experience. In my testing this morning, I found it very fun to not only see the geese flying, but hearing them too. With the click of a mouse I could easily turn the audio on and off, plus learn more about the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.