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A Quick Tour of the Windows 8.1 Bing News App

At its heart, the Windows 8.1 Bing News app is a wire-service aggregator, with a disproportionate representation of news stories sent by Reuters and the Associated Press (AP). As you scan through the news stories, you can see where they came from.

1

Look at the News tile on the Start screen.

If you’ve used the News app at all while connected to the Internet, you see a picture that slides up and down, revolving with a one-sentence news description that actually matches the picture.

If you’ve never used the News app, it’s just a blank tile with a picture and a little bit of text.

2

Tap or click the Bing News tile.

Bing News offers to take you on a tour, customize your news, add a section, or close the Get Started panel. Go through the tour (which is more like an ad, but what the heck). Then click or tap to get rid of the Get Started panel.

The Bing Daily appears with a full-screen high-definition photo associated with a top story.

3

Tap or click the story.

(Actually, you have to tap or click the text at the bottom of the picture, but close enough.)

Most stories run 500 to 1,000 words, typical for a print tabloid, and vastly superior to a typical radio or TV news blurb, but stunted for a “serious news” paper.

If you’re using a tablet, you immediately realize that the text can’t be pinched. The text size you see is what you get. But you can swipe to go from page to page. If you have a mouse, the scroll wheel doesn’t move the story up and down; it moves the story left to right.

4

Scroll to the right, to see the main categories offered in the Metro News app.

Depending on your location, you probably see three or four stories each in these categories: U.S., World, Sci/Tech, Business, Entertainment, Politics, Sports, and Health.

You can also pinch, or click the small minus sign in the lower-right corner, for a Semantic Zoom that shows you the sections.

5

In your favorite web browser, go to Bing.com.

Note the tabs at the top of the page. They’re almost identical to the sections in the Bing app.

The overlap in categories emphasizes that the Bing News app is just a re-packaging of the Bing News site — but there’s more to it than that. Two concerns:

The website packs a lot more information onto your screen at the expense of those huge high-def photos. Where the Windows 8.1 Metro tiled app shows just one top story, the website shows six or more.

Usually, hot news items don’t appear in the Metro app until 12 hours or more after the news stories appeared on the Bing News site. Although the website’s stories get updated frequently, they rarely seem to be updated on the Bing News app.

6

Grab your iPad, if you have one, install the Bing for iPad app (yep, it’s in the Apple App Store) and look at Bing News from the iPad point of view.

If you don’t have an iPad, skip to Step 8.

Bing for iPad looks a little different, but it has several of the same categories. Tap the Weather tile, and you get an hourly and a ten-day forecast, just like the Bing Weather app. Tap the Finance tile, and you can put your choice of three stocks or indices on the screen.

7

On the iPad, tap the News tile at the bottom.

You get a full array of news stories. Bing puts 24 stories on the screen, compared to the handful on the Metro tiled Bing News app. The pictures aren’t as nice, but the categories are similar, and it’s much easier to find a news story on the iPad.

8

Think about what you want from a news source.

Although Metro tiled Bing News has beautiful pictures, it has very few stories, the stories are dated, and they’re harder to find. The web version of Bing News is okay, and the iPad version is considerably better.

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