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Is Apple going after Google Search with Applebot?

Apple has confirmed it uses a web-crawling tool by the name of Applebot to help power Siri and Spotlight results.

While Apple makes use of Google and Bing in order to bring results to users who query using the built-in iOS and Mac OS X tools, it appears it isn’t solely reliant on its rivals.

The Applebot tool was first noted back in November, but Cupertino has now gone on record, explaining how it delivers information to Siri and Spotlight users. It works just like Google Search’s familiar Googlebot in the way it trawls the web for information, but it’s not clear how long it has been in operation.

On its support site (via MacRumors), Apple notes: “Applebot is the web crawler for Apple, used by products including Siri and Spotlight Suggestions. It respects customary robots.txt rules and robots meta tags. It originates in the 17.0.0.0 net block.”

Read more: Apple iOS 8 Tips, Tricks and Secrets

The official acknowledgement will fuel rumours Apple is planning to build its own search engine to rival Google and Bing.

Reports have suggested Apple plans to ditch Google for Safari web searches later this year when when the contract between the two companies ends. Back in February, a job posting seeking an Engineering Project Manager for a project dubbed ‘Apple Search’ also appeared on the company website.

Both Microsoft and Yahoo are thought to be eying a deal to replace Google, but could Apple have  an in-house solution in production that’d end its reliance on third-party search providers?

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