Apple is developing a fully-fledged alternative to the Google search engine, according to a Financial Times report on Wednesday.
The report cites an iOS 14 feature that shows web search results within the search portion of the Today view screen and says Apple is now “stepping-up” its efforts.
This improved feature now shows suggested websites as well as autocomplete suggestions similar to those seen in Google. Previously, this functionality was limited to previously accessed Safari pages, the App Store, Siri Knowledge and items within Files, Reminders, Mail and other apps. It’s still well short of a functioning search engine that could rival Google, but the FT’s sources say this is the eventual goal.
The push towards search independence could be a result of Google’s potential problems with monopolies regulators around the world, who continue to allege Google abuses its dominant position. Google pays Apple a massive amount of cash to be the default search engine on iOS and MacOS and those payments could come under threat should competition authorities take significant action against Google.
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The US Department of Justice, for example, could mandate that Google can no longer fork over an estimated estimated $8bn-12bn to Apple to maintain its search dominance.
Apple making the switch would not be a complete surprise. It has shown down the years, it has no qualms over developing rivals to established services. Apple Maps, for example, has become competitive with Google Maps, while Apple Music is rapidly reeling in Spotify as a streaming leader.
Whether Apple could possibly reel in Google’s expertise is a different matter altogether. No-one else has managed to create a viable alternative to Google’s algorithm in 20-odd years to date.
It’s also possible building its own search engine for iOS and macOS devices could open Apple up to the same allegations of anti-competitive behaviour Google has long faced.