Apple is quietly developing its own search technology for iPhones as regulators examine the multibillion-dollar payments that Google makes each year to Apple to ensure that its search engine is installed as a default search tool on all its products.
With the launch of iPhone 12 and update to iOS 14, Apple now shows its own search results instead of Google’s. It also displays auto-complete style suggestions, highlighting how it is learning from users most common search queries. However, few are likely to have noticed the change.
The U.S. Department of Justice launched a case last week over payments that Google makes to Apple to be the iPhone’s default search tool. The DOJ cites “public estimates” said that Google pays Apple between $8 billion and $12 billion per year to be the default search engine on Apple products.
An in-house search offering from Apple would provide the company with an alternative to Google search should authorities decide to block the partnership. The DOJ case has added urgency to Apple’s search efforts, according to the FT, which cites search marketing experts who say the company’s “Applebot” — a web crawler used to build a database of online material — has become more active recently.
Apple has recruited a number of search experts in recent years. The Cupertino-headquartered firm hired Google’s head of search, John Giannandrea, in April 2018 and Apple has also been posting job adverts for search engineers relatively frequently. – The Financial Times