Apple search engine rumors revived as it may be looking to stop relying on Google

Apple logo
(Image credit: Apple)

Rumors persisted that Apple has been developing its own search engine to replace Google on its devices, but those efforts might be ramping up  – just as Google is facing potential anti-trust actions by the US Department of Justice.

Apple is likely to have been working on this search engine for years, according to a Financial Times report citing key hirings and software hints as evidence that is more suggestive than conclusive.

The report prominently cites Apple’s 2018 hiring of John Giannandrea, former Google head of search, to improve AI tech and Siri, while other job listings suggested Apple’s effort to improve search. Meanwhile, the Applebot web crawler has seen increased activity for years, potentially laying the groundwork for a search engine.

That activity spiked around the launch of iOS 14, when developers began noticing Applebot crawling their sites and services, as MacRumors noted. 

In other words, the report involves a healthy amount of conjecture, but Apple does have reason to develop its own Google-rivaling search – and the industry has speculated it’s been working on search tech for years anyway.

Apple search rumors have been piling up, too

The new report isn’t the only evidence. Apple had allegedly been buying up datacenter server components in the lead up to its rumored October launch event, according to sources within the tech giant’s supply chain. 

If true, it’s no surprise that it’s taken Apple years to develop its own search engine, as Google has had decades of a headstart and an overwhelming command of search market dominance. 

Apple’s advantage is in its market share of devices, like the newly launched iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Air 4 as well as the forthcoming iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max. On all of these devices, Google is the default search engine within Apple's built-in Safari app.

That said, Apple certainly profits from partnering with Google, taking in more than $7 billion per year by allowing Google to be the primary search engine on its products, per analyst estimates. Google's revenue comes from sponsored results.

Given Apple’s traditional secrecy, of course, we wouldn’t know if it’s been working on its own search engine. And the company could decide to abandon its efforts. We’ve been reporting on an Apple search engine nearly as long as TechRadar has been around, and we may just keep posting whenever a hint like this crops up.

Via MacRumors 

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.