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Apple quietly working on its own search engine to reduce reliance on Google

Google is under antitrust investigation right now, and that could possibly lead to problems for Apple's iPhone experience.

Published onOctober 28, 2020

iPhone SE back straight on
David Imel / Android Authority
  • According to a new report, there are multiple bits of info that strongly suggest an Apple search engine is in the works.
  • It is likely Apple is doing this to reduce its reliance on Google for web searches and other search functions.
  • Google is under an antitrust investigation at the moment, and that could have bad outcomes for Apple.

Over the past few years, there have been multiple rumors, leaks, and other info that suggests Apple is working on its own search engine. A recent report from Financial Times rounds up a lot of these details while also suggesting that Apple’s efforts in this realm are increasing.

It is very likely Apple is fast-tracking a search product due to Google’s current legal situation. The Big G is under investigation related to alleged antitrust violations which center on Google Search. If Google ends up needing to roll back its partnerships due to this investigation, Apple could be in trouble.

Related: Google buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know about Google hardware

As of now, the default search engine on Apple iPhones is Google. Allegedly, Google pays Apple up to $12 billion per year for that privilege. If Google can’t do that anymore, an Apple search engine will be necessary, or else Apple could face user experience issues.

Apple search engine: What’s happening?

The FT report summarizes the efforts Apple has already taken in the search realm. It’s hired multiple people with work histories related to search engine development (including ex-Googlers) and has increased its job postings related to that same topic. FT also noticed a strong uptick in activity related to “Applebot,” a web crawler that aggregates massive amounts of internet data.

Very recently, Apple changed the way searches work on iPhones. Now, the first results from web searches come from Apple, not Google. It appears this is only happening in iOS 14, though.

As of now, it’s not clear if Apple is looking to actively take on Google in the search industry. That seems a foolhardy task, considering how other search engines can barely compete. However, if this antitrust suit falls outside of Google’s favor, the search landscape could become quite different. We’ll need to take a wait-and-see approach. Ultimately, though, it appears an Apple search engine is happening, at least when it comes to iPhones.

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