While most people who have upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 (in the United States at least) seem to be enjoying the new Cortana virtual digital assistant, some miss the secondary search features—like Local Scout, Bing Music and Bing Vision—that used to be available from the Bing Search interface in previous Windows Phone versions. No worries, as each of these features is still available in Windows Phone 8.1.
In Windows Phone 8, you can press the hardware Search button on your handset to access Bing Search.
Arrayed along the bottom of this interface are three app bar buttons: Local Search, Bing Music and Bing Vision, each of which is quite useful in its own way.
Local Scout. This "neighborhood guide" helps you find recommended restaurants, shopping, and activities in your current neighborhood or almost anywhere in the world. (And in Windows Phone 8.1, it's been updated to help you find local and trusted Wi-Fi networks as well.)
Bing Music. This feature lets you use your phone's microphone to "listen" to any song you hear playing—on the radio, at a sports event, or elsewhere—and then find out which song it is and, if it's available via Xbox Music, buy it and/or download it to the phone, or share it with others using messaging, mail, Facebook, or Twitter, or other service. It's like Shazam, but integrated into Windows Phone.
Bing Vision. This feature combines the handset's camera with software-based visualization capabilities and Bing online services to allow you to find out more about what you're looking at. It specifically understands QR codes, Microsoft Tags and bar codes, and it can scan text from virtually anywhere to drive a search query. But it also understands some physical objects, including CD, DVD, video game, and book covers, and more. You can use it to discover whether a product is available near you, or online, and then compare prices.
The following sections explain where you can find each of these features in Windows Phone 8.1.
Local Scout is now available only from the (Bing) Maps app, though you can also pin it to the Start screen. (Both of these capabilities were available in previous Windows Phone versions as well.) Just tap the Local Scout app bar button in Maps to launch it. To pin Local Scout to Start, tap the More ("...") app bar button and then choose Pin to Start from the menu that appears.
Bing Music is available from Cortana: Just tap the little music icon in the upper right of the screen.
The interface looks a bit different, but it works as it did before.
Bing Vision is now available from the Lenses interface in Camera (or in other camera apps, including Nokia Camera). (It was available from this interface in Windows Phone 8 as well.) To access it, launch Camera, tap the More ("...") app bar button, and then select Lenses from the menu that appears.
Bing Vision looks and works as it did before.