Windows Phone doesn’t usually receive any changes to its interface outside of official software updates. So imagine our surprise when we tapped on our Lumia 820′s search button tonight, only to discover a totally revamped design for Bing’s search results. As you will see in the screenshots after the jump, the changes here are big.
Previously, Windows Phone 8′s search results showed four pivots to swipe between: Web, Local, Media, and Shopping. Tonight, most of that has been changed and the number of pivots has been chopped down to three: Web, Images, and Video.
Each of these pivots has seen their own redesigns, likely in an effort to make searching a little less convoluted than before. The Web pivot in particular is now extremely context-heavy based on our experience. If you look up ‘Starbucks’ for example, the Web pivot now shows a snippet of locations at the top which you can expand upon by tapping on ‘more business listings’. If you try looking up a product like the game Batman: Arkham City, a link to the product card is now intertwined with the web results. The same rule applies if you look up a myriad of other items like a sports team or a celebrity. The News section of the web results has also been altered slightly, now showing image thumbnails for each article.
As you may have noticed, the old ‘Media’ tab has been split up in favor of separate pivots for Images and Videos. The former now features much larger image previews (instead of the 4×4 grid you had to practically squint at), while the latter arranges video links in a two-column format. Also, Bing’s cards of information have been redesigned as well, pooling in information from more sources and recommending related items.
We’re not sure why this Bing update has just reached our phones sans any announcement, and we’re unable to determine if it’s available in other regions besides our country (the United States). Do any of our readers see these changes? Please leave your feedback in the comments so we can figure this thing out.
Update: While our commenters from around the world have been totally out of luck, a couple of people on Reddit have noticed the changes and (surprise) they all happen to be from the United States. We’re glad to know our sanity remains on its leash, but we’ve contacted Microsoft to help gain some more clarity.
Update 2: Microsoft has responded to our inquiries, and has confirmed these changes will be coming to all Windows Phone 8 handsets globally in a roll out over the coming weeks.