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FT: Apple developing its own search engine, could cut ties with Google

How to use the Smart Search bar in Safari on iPhone and iPad
How to use the Smart Search bar in Safari on iPhone and iPad (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new report says Apple is working on its own search engine.
  • It reiterates previous rumors Apple might be looking to cut ties with Google.
  • The report says this is driven, at least in part, by antitrust scrutiny of the giant.

A new report from the Financial Times has reiterated that Apple is working on its own search engine and that there are signs of the change already in iOS 14.

From the report:

Apple is stepping up efforts to develop its own search technology as US antitrust authorities threaten multibillion-dollar payments that Google makes to secure prime placement of its engine on the iPhone.In a little-noticed change to the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 14, Apple has begun to show its own search results and link directly to websites when users type queries from its home screen.

The report says the change is further evidence Apple is looking to build "a rival to Google's search engine". The report reflects news earlier in October noting that Apple is hiring in key areas of expertise pertaining to searching the web. That report further cited the fact that Apple's current deal with Google is nearing an end, and that antitrust scrutiny may ultimately put a stop to it anyway.

FT notes how iOS 14 has "nudged aside Google for certain search functions" including searching in 'Today View', which shows an Apple-generated list of results, rather than Google.

FT further reiterates that Apple has a "growing incentive" not to stick with Google as the default search engine on iPhone because of antitrust scrutiny, noting the DoJ holds Google's annual payments of between $8bn and $12bn as crucial to its antitrust case against the company. One commentator noting Apple would have to walk a fine line in explaining why it takes these payments, and that the Department of Justice could simply "demand an end to the exclusive agreement."

The report notes that some onlookers remain dismissive of the notion, a Columbia Business School professor stating it would "extremely difficult" for Apple to catch up to established search engines, citing Google's massive advantage in terms of scale.

You can read the full report here.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

5 Comments
  • Will it turn into the only search engine on apple product, charge a monthly fee with in app purchases if you want all the results and no ads?
  • Not really sure what you’re getting at... Apple gives away almost all of it’s software and it’s iCloud services are free as well (except extra storage). And they are all ad free.
  • Apple could just buy up Duck Duck Go - not nearly as extensive as Google’s results, but it’s a start.
  • Great idea! It is only that I tried Duck Duck Go a couple of years ago, and the quality of search was very poor, irrelevant. Now I have tried it and it seems like the returned stuff is much more elaborate. What is your experience?
  • My opinion is that Apple cannot develop a real competitor to Google if they are going to cover Apple users only. They simply cannot invest as much as Google do. People are not happy with DuckDuckGo and other engines because the relevance is a far cry from Google standards...