Microsoft's Bing team is doing its part to help converge the software giant's operating systems, launching a suite of Bing apps for Windows Phone 8.
The new apps include Bing News, Sports, Weather and Finance--they're similar to the ones that are already available on Windows 8. For now, Bing's Health & Fitness and Food & Drink apps--both of which debut in the forthcoming Windows 8.1 update--haven't made the leap to Windows Phone 8.
Bing News lets you read stories from partnering publications such as Associated Press, The Guardian, and Reuters. You can create a list of favorite sources, browse by category and watch videos. One thing that appears to be missing from the Windows Phone 8 version is the ability to add your own RSS feeds--a feature that arrived in the Windows 8 version of Bing News in April.
Bing Sports shows headlines, scoreboards, schedules, and standings for all major sports. You can also designate your favorite teams and leagues for quicker access through the app.
With Bing Finance, you can keep an eye on stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities, in addition to getting the latest financial news. The app also includes a currency converter. While the Windows 8 version now includes a mortgage calculator, retirement planner, and return on investment calculator, those tools haven't made it to the Windows Phone 8 version.
Finally, there's Bing Weather, which shows hourly and daily forecasts from the locations of your choosing, along with historical data. Weather maps offer satellite imagery and provide information on temperature, precipitation and cloud cover.
All four apps take advantage of Live Tile shortcuts in Windows Phone 8. With News, you can pin your favorite sources or topics to the Start screen. Sports lets you pin your favorite team, Weather lets you pin a location, and Finance allows you to pin favorite stocks.
As Microsoft tries to turn itself into a devices-and-services company, one of its major goals is to provide more consistency from one Windows device to the next. Seeing as Bing's apps are included on Windows 8 devices, it makes sense for those same apps to be available on Windows Phones.
It'd be great to see even more cross-device features--for instance, having your news preferences and favorite sports teams show up on your Windows tablet after adding them on a Windows Phone--but this is a good start as Microsoft tries to bring its platforms together.