Apple is “stepping up efforts” to develop its own search technology, according to the Financial Times (a subscription is required to read the entire article). Doubtless part of the reason is the U.S. antitrust authorities look into the tech giant’s billions-of-dollars deal with Google that keeps Google’s search engine the default option on Apple devices.
I think the idea of “Apple Search” (“iSearch” ?) is a solid one. In fact, in a 2013 Seeking Alpha article Kevin Fulton said he thought an Apple search engine would be the company’s “next big thing” (though, of course, seven years later, this still hasn’t happened). 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.”
Also, 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.
And in 2016, Apple posted a listing to its Jobs at Apple page describing an engineering project manager position for “Apple Search.” Here’s Apple’s job summary (as it appeared at the time): “Apple seeks a technical, driven and creative program manager to manage backend operations projects for a search platform supporting hundreds of millions of users. Play a part in revolutionizing how people use their computers and mobile devices. Manage operational projects that support groundbreaking technology and the most scalable big-data systems in existence.”
Apple likes to control the “whole widget,” as Steve Jobs once said. Who knows? That may involve its own search engine in the future.