Google Fast FlipBing is taking it to Google with all it’s got, with Microsoft’s search engine unveiling a brand new Visual Search feature that lets you swoop through popular search categories with pics. Not to be outdone though, Google’s fought back, unveiling its Fast Flip news search feature at the very same conference.

The TechCrunch 50 conference for web start ups is going down in San Francisco right now, and while neither Microsoft nor Google need any help from angel investors, both were on hand to show off their new search engine wares.

First up, Microsoft showed off Bing Visual Search, a neat little feature that lets you scan popular categories and queries like “dog breeds” and “digital cameras” with a gallery of thumbnails. You can then hover over a tile to fill the Bing search box with that item or animal, and re-order the results. When you do, Microsoft’s Silverlight tech uses swish animations to move the squares around. It’s not dissimilar to the spreadsheet layout of Google Squared, but it promises to be much more accessible.

Microsoft Bing live and tested

Speaking of Google, the search giant stepped up soon after to show off its own new tool: Google Fast Flip. As revealed by a leak, it’s a visual way to scan through the day’s news, showing tiles of complete web pages, pictures, warts and all, not just headlines. It’s incredibly fast to scroll through all that current affairs eye candy, although since it’s opt in, the number of partners is limited at the moment (but does include the BBC).

The two features aren’t exactly head to head rivals, but the adoption of visual aids in searches by both and Microsoft and Google is significant: both companies are looking to find new ways to help casual surfers find what they want, and make a mint with advertising in the process. Microsoft’s Bing Visual Search should be going live here shortly, while Google Fast Flip is ready to try out right now, so give’em a whirl and see if those lush pictures help you find better results.

Out Now | £free | Microsoft Bing and Google Fast Flip (Via TechCrunch)

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