The ability to earn Bing Rewards points has now come to the built-in Bing search app in Windows Phone 8, even if Microsoft isn’t speaking about it. Previously in WP7.x, the only way to earn points was to use the browser-based Bing search, which isn’t nearly as convenient as tapping the search button, nor does it have the amount of features (i.e. Bing Vision, local gps-based search, deals, etc.) that the built-in search does.
For those unfamiliar with Bing Rewards, it’s a way of earning points for searches you do on Bing, which can then be redeemed for Xbox Live points, Hulu Plus subscriptions, gift certificates (including Amazon.com), sweepstakes, Skype credit, and the recently-announced ability to purchase Windows Phone 8 apps.
The ability to earn points through your phone is a huge one for consumers, as most people are likely to do the majority of their Web searches on their smartphone, which they have with them at all times, as opposed to a computer at a desk which they are only at for part of the day. The cycle of life is complete with the ability to claim those points to purchase apps and games, making it possible for people to essentially earn their apps for free.
Many things are still missing, which I’m guessing is why Microsoft isn’t advertising it at the moment. For one Bing Rewards is a U.S.-only program right now, so Microsoft would not want to advertise a feature not available elsewhere, especially given some pundits’ recent criticism of the fragmented Microsoft ecosystem. Another essential thing is that there is no points counter in the Bing app (which is why I’m guessing no one noticed that you can now earn points), much less the ability to sign up for Bing Rewards. Also missing is the ability to refer-a-friend to Bing Rewards, through which you can earn 20 points; you would think this would be a no-brainer on a smartphone with the ability to pull in contacts from the People Hub. My guess is that Microsoft is prepping to add all those features to WP8 at some point in the future, at which point they will announce it with much fanfare. Better announce it once it’s right than right now when it’s halfass.
Nevetheless, if you have been clamoring to earn Bing Rewards on your Windows Phone through the built-in app, you’re in luck that Microsoft listened and implemented it, even if they aren’t talking about it. Enjoy.