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Apple Allegedly Developing Alternative to Google Search

Posted October 28, 2020 | Apple | Cloud | Google | Google Search | iOS | Mobile | Windows

A new report claims that Apple is working to create an alternative to Google Search for use on the iPhone and its other devices.

The in-house search technology is apparently a hedge against an expected antitrust ruling against Google, according to The Financial Times, which cites evidence in iOS 14 and elsewhere but no actual sources.

According to the publication, a little-noticed change in iOS 14 includes Apple’s own search results alongside those from Google and other sources. “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 Financial Times claims, rather nebulously. It further claims that “the move adds to growing evidence that it is working to build a rival to Google’s search engine.”

That evidence, such as it is, includes Apple’s 2018 hiring of John Giannandrea, a former Google Search executive, which the firm said was about boosting the artificial intelligence capabilities of the Siri virtual assistant, its “frequent job advertisements for search engineers,” and increased activity from Applebot, Apple’s web crawler. Applebot is “used to build the vast database of online material that forms the foundation of any search engine,” the publication says.

Replacing Google Maps with Apple Maps was daunting enough—and one might argue that the product is still vastly inferior almost a decade later—but replacing Google Search seems like an insurmountable goal. But as The Financial Times notes, Apple’s vast profits and cash reserves provide it with a unique opportunity to do just that. Or at least try.

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