Do you mean what you mean?

Screen Shot of Bing's Stupidity

Did I stutter?

But incidentally, this reveals that – shock horror – I use Bing.  I actually use it by default on all my own devices.  Why is this so, when I work at Google?  Well, first, I don’t work on Search, so I have no particular vested interest in it.  Second, after I joined Google I decided I wanted to actually check out the competition1.  I’d relied on Google exclusively for as long as I could remember – probably since Altavista, or something that similarly shows how ancient I am2.

So basically I set each device I owned – iMac, iPad, iPhone – to a different search engine, and then forgot about it and used them for a while.  I quickly discovered that Yahoo sucks.  Really sucks.  I was amazed how useless it was for virtually any query I could think of.

But perhaps more insidiously disturbing is that I found myself cursing Google’s stupidity when I couldn’t get results I wanted.  Only to realise I was using Bing.  And that really summarised it – I couldn’t readily tell the difference in day-to-day use.

Now, it’s not entirely true that Bing is equivalent.  It does a small number of things better – it tends to just work better on iDevices, for example, in subtle ways – but it does occasionally generate unexpectedly short sets of results.  The same search on Google then yields an order of magnitude or more results, including, quite often, the ones that are actually useful.  So I do occasionally swing back to Google on a query-by-query basis.

I have not really tried any other search engines – DuckDuckGo a couple of times, for curiosity’s sake – because, sadly, you can’t set them as the engine for the dedicated Search field on any Apple products.  Which is kind of frustrating.  I miss creaky old OmniWeb’s system of URL macros.  I understand that Firefox has similar functionality, but then I’d have to use Firefox… ick.

  1. [Amendment from 2024] Although if I recall correctly the specific instigation was a Google-internal report proclaiming and lauding Google’s results as vastly superior to Bing’s, in a way that reeked of deception and insecurity. So I think I wanted to see for myself what the Google Search team were pretty obviously trying to hide (from themselves, if not everyone else). ↩︎
  2. To all you damn kids on my lawn, Altavista was the big kahuna of search before Google. ↩︎

Leave a Comment