Outings is one of the most interesting projects to come from Microsoft Garage, the skunkworks collaborative division of the company. Developed as an Android and iOS app, Outings was released in December 2017 and its tools are now integrating into Bing.com and Bing Search applications.
Microsoft says the development of Outings since launch has been impressive, including a mixed reality version. By working on feedback and usage data, the company thinks the app is ready to graduate beyond a Garage project.
On the official app page, Microsoft has confirmed experimentation for Outings is complete and the app is folding into Bing:
“As of July 31, 2019, the mobile version of Outings will complete its experiment. Many of the features and learnings the team has gathered over the months will be incorporated into the latest Bing mobile app.”
If you are unfamiliar with Outings, its is a search tool that helps users find travel locations such as historic sites, outdoor adventures, hidden gems, and more. Users can see images of locations, see integrated news and information pieces on those areas, and share places with friends and contacts.
The app is now becoming a part of Bing Attractions and Outdoors. This division leverages Microsoft's search engine to deliver results to users based on attractions they may want to visit. Oswaldo Ribas, Program Manager for the team, worked with the Outings team to see how the app can translate to Bing:
“The work will surface in a number of places including the search results page and the Maps vertical.”
In an announcement blog, Jyot Patel, the Engineering Manager of Outings and a Principal Software Engineer on the Bing team, addressed one of the core issues with Outings. Namely, that the app does not deliver anything new. In other words, all the information it presents is already available online:
“Even if this content is already available on the internet, you'll have to scour the internet for that information. There's a need to have all this rich content about destinations in one place.”
Oswaldo says user feedback suggests there is a demand for this already available information to be collected in a single service:
“The positive feedback told us that there is quite a bit of demand for rich, attraction and destination content to be presented in a put-together fashion. Obviously, there's a lot of opportunity for us to invest in travel and destinations moving forward. It confirmed suspicions that we have, basically,” adds Oswaldo.