Microsoft recently rolled out a new feature for Bing designed to make the search engine more personal by delivering useful updates to the Bing homepage based on your interests. You can get updates for news, weather, and traffic so you'll know what to expect on your commute as well as what Mother Nature has in store for the day.
The new feature precedes the launch of Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1, a Siri/Google Now-like digital personal assistant.
Once you've set-up your interests on Bing, updates can surface on Windows Phone 8.1 devices as well. Bing-powered apps such as the Sports app built-in to Windows 8.1 will also get interest integration, but the feature is not active yet.
Here's how to get started.
Login to add your interests
The first thing you have to do is login to your Microsoft account on Bing. You can do that by clicking on Sign in above the Bing landing page on the right side.
Once you're logged in, click on the settings cog next to the sign-in option or just navigate to Bing.com/account/general. On the left navigation panel, you should see a star icon towards the top labled Interests.
If not, I found that you can sometimes force the interests option to appear by clicking on Settings > Worldwide > United States - English from the same navigation panel.
Add more interests
Once you've got your Interests icon available, click on it and you should see a number of default interests added automatically, such as Headline News, Weather Near Me, Traffic alerts, and Trip Planner.
To see what else you can add, click on "Add interests." Here you'll find an option called Out + About to get local restaurant, museum, and nightlife recommendations.
You can also add more specific news stories that interest you by clicking on News and then typing a keyword into the search box on the next page.
If you wanted to get news on the defending World Series champions, for example, just type Boston Red Sox. You'll then see a Red Sox news item created below the search box.
Click on that item and you'll start to see the latest Red Sox news appear on the Bing landing page.
Some users may also see the option to add an interest during a regular Bing search, according to Search Engine Land. However, I haven't seen that option yet.
That's about all there is to Bing's current interest integration. For now, you are fairly limited on what kind of updates you can receive. There are no options for scanning your Outlook.com inbox for upcoming flights or surfacing data from Microsoft's online Calendar. At least for non-Windows Phone 8.1 users, anyone with a Cortana-powered phone will have a different experience.
Nevertheless, getting personalized headlines and weather updates is a good start. Microsoft says more features will be added in the future as the feature progresses. So keep your eye on your interests section, Bing users.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.