Exciting news emerging in the world of search. Apple has finally confirmed their own web crawler that they call Applebot. It could signal that they’re getting ready to compete with Google in the realm of search engines. Apple says that their products like Siri and Spotlight Suggestions already use Applebot. And Apple is one of the few companies in existence to with enough resources to take on Google and index the web from scratch using their own technology and search algorithm.
Rumors of this increased Apple search functionality first showed up with the release of iOS 14 in September. Apple now shows its own search results and links to websites from its home screen when using Spotlight Search, rather than using the Google search functionality through Safari or other downloaded internet apps.
Apple’s interest in search capability has been around for a while. In 2018, Google’s head of search, John Giannandrea, left the company and joined Apple. At the time, they touted the career move as away to boost AI capabilities with Siri. But many suspected more could come down the line.
According to a report in the Financial Times, this confirmation and news from one of the largest tech companies out there, comes as U.S. antitrust authorities are ramping up efforts between the two companies on both Capitol Hill and the Justice Department. Right now, it’s estimated that Google pays Apple $8-12 Billion each year to be the iPhone/iPad/Apple Product’s default search engine. And it’s the payment that’s currently under scrutiny.
The Financial Times also reports an uptick in the Applebot showing up crawling popular sites. And in Apple’s official confirmation, they talk about how to recognize the bot and how to direct it to crawl your site.
And while all of this is speculation, it could signal is developing a full blown Google competitor. Or it could just mean better capabilities for Siri and voice technology to answer the ever-growing popularity of voice queries. What is clear is that Apple, which notoriously keeps projects top secret, is working on something in the search engine realm. And we’ll continue to watch to see how this move shakes up the search landscape in the future.
This is a developing story, and we will update more as we get additional information.