It’s not often that Microsoft comes up with something that is simpler and more intuitive than Apple’s equivalent, but this week’s update to Bing for iPad seems to have done just that.

The feature that is attracting attention is called Lasso, an interface that Microsoft calls “searching without a search box.” It basically allows users to use their finger to circle whatever words they want to search for, then tap and Bing will search for it.

Tony Chor, Microsoft Group Program Manager, Bing, was happy to mention in a blog post that performing the same search on an iPad without Bing can take up to nine steps. Apple’s native iPad process involves tapping the screen to make the text selection box appear, holding and dragging the box’s hot spots so that it encloses the desired search term, tapping on “copy,” then tapping the browser search box to paste the selection.

The updated Bing app also includes improvements to movie discovery, which now allows users to view multiple showtimes, dates and theaters for the film of their choice. This latest version of the free app is available now from Apple’s App Store.

Chor signed off with an intriguing promise. “Although it will only be available in Bing for iPad to begin with, we’re already thinking about how to take Lasso even further – so stay tuned,” he wrote.

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