Apple is reportedly “stepping up efforts” to develop its own search engine technology as U.S. antitrust authorities are targeting the deal that ensures that Google’s search engine remains the default search option on Apple devices.
In a little-noticed change to the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 14, Apple has begun to show its own search results and link directly to websites when users type queries from its home screen.
That web search capability marks an important advance in Apple’s in-house development and could form the foundation of a fuller attack on Google, according to several people in the industry.
The Silicon Valley company is notoriously secretive about its internal projects, but the move adds to growing evidence that it is working to build a rival to Google’s search engine.
The report recalls that Apple two years ago hired John Giannandrea, Google’s former head of search, to improve artificial intelligence capabilities and improve Siri. The report also notes Apple’s “frequent” job advertisements for search engineers as evidence that the Cupertino firm is stepping up its search efforts.
The report also mentions the increased activity from Applebot, Apple’s web crawler, which could indicate Apple is stepping up its search efforts. It should be noted though that Applebot’s main task is to improve Siri and Spotlight results.
The report, while adding little to what is already known, relies heavily on speculation in the wake of the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit filed against Google last week. The JOD claims Google uses exclusionary and anticompetitive practices to maintain an unlawful monopoly in the search and advertising markets.
Google pays an estimated eight to 12 billion dollars per year in exchange for making Google the default search engine on its devices and browsers. Antitrust prosecutors claim the deal is illegal, as it allows Google to stifle competition. Apple is also under scrutiny for aiding Google’s anticompetitive behavior by agreeing to the deal and for getting more money out of Google with each renegotiation of the deal.