Understand how Microsoft works, and you'll understand why Microsoft pushed a lovely new update to its Bing Rewards app for Android and iOS devices on Tuesday--and not its own Windows phones.
Unlike Google, Microsoft will actually pay you to use its Bing search engine through a program called Bing Rewards. For every two desktop searches, you'll typically receive a credit; ditto for mobile searches as well. Accrue enough credits and you can trade them in for prizes--475 will earn you a $5 gift card at Amazon, for example.
Why this matters: Those who use Windows PCs are somewhat likely to use Bing; ditto for Windows phones. On Android, however, you're far more likely to use Google's own built-in search engine. Microsoft's strategy is to use incentives like Bing Rewards to push its services onto as many platforms as possible--and ideally win new converts to Microsoft, Windows, and Microsoft's services.
More of the same, but prettier
The new update, which Microsoft pushed live Tuesday, doesn't really change anything fundamental about the Bing Rewards program itself. Each day, Microsoft assigns a few "daily challenges," pushing you to explore recipes for Thanksgiving, for example, or catch up with the news of the day. Every so often, there are trivia challenges that encourage you to use (and become familiar with) Bing to search out the results. Each challenge racks up a credit or two, but also allows Microsoft to claim you as a "daily user," an important metric it can use to sell itself to advertisers.
The updated app keeps all those elements in place, but presents them attractively in a motif that's reminiscent of a fitness tracker or game app. Interestingly, however, the Bing Rewards app doesn't require either a Bing Search app to be installed, or for users to switch their installed search provider to Bing. Instead, the app rather gently brings you to a mobile Bing search page.
Last year, I switched from Google to Bing. Bing Rewards wasn't the only reason I did so, but it certainly contributed to my decision. With the updated app, Microsoft hopes you'll follow suit.
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