As noted by MacRumors, Apple is working on an online search engine to rival Google as part of its efforts to beef up Spotlight’s search features, reports The Information (a subscription is required to read the entire article).
The article says Apple’s search technology faces a setback amid loss of talent to Google. In 2018, Apple sought to bolster development of a web search engine by buying machine learning startup Laserlike, which was founded by three former Google search engineers. The company’s technology recommended websites based on a user’s interests and browsing history. Now, Laserlike’s founders have reportedly returned to Google.
MacRumors says Apple’s search team is believed to contain at least 200 employees and powers the technology behind Spotlight, Siri Suggestions, and answers provided by Siri. However, the tech giant is still at least four years away from launching a replacement to Google search, according to The Information.
This isn’t the first rumor of Apple making its own search engine (Apple Search?). In June AR evangelist Robert Scoble tweet3d that the company was working on its own search engine.
He told TechRadar that this information is based partly on conversations with sources and partly on deduction. Scoble said the search engine would be announced in January 2023 and would be “expensive product launch of all time.”
And that wasn’t the first such rumor. In a 2018 Macworld article, Jason Cross said Apple should develop its own search engine.
“The company’s stance on privacy is at odds with the way the biggest search engines operate,” Jason wrote. “Maybe there’s a better way.”
Read the complete article for his conclusions, but I think “Apple Search” is a great idea — though I’m dubious that Apple is willing to give up the billions of dollars Google pays the company to be the default search engine on its various devices.
In fact, in 2016, Apple posted a listing to its Jobs at Apple page describing an engineering project manager position for “Apple Search.” And in a 2013 Seeking Alpha article Kevin Fulton said he thought an Apple search engine would be the company’s “next big thing.” He said that Apple has been bolstering its technology portfolio in preparation for the day when it becomes independent from Google.
Fulton said that, rather than competing directly with Google’s broad search capabilities, he thinks Apple will personalize its search offering.
“The search engine will use machine learning and restrict the information only to relevant sources that the user trusts,” he adds. “It will be location and circle of influence based. Apple will implement its personalized search ability across the iOS ecosystem by integrating the improved Siri into apps and having loadable native commands to run those apps by voice.”
I’m not convinced that we’ll see Apple Search. However, I’m not as sure as I once was that we won’t.
In May 2015, Apple confirmed the existence of its Applebot web crawler (which isn’t to be confused with either Ultron or Spider-man). A Web crawler is an Internet bot that browses the Web in a methodical, automated manner, typically for the purpose of Web indexing. Apple says that Applebot is used by Siri, its voice activated digital assistant, Spotlight suggestions, and its Safari search engine.
(BTW, the AppleBot cartoon accompanying this article is courtesy of Technewstoday.com.)
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