AppleInsider reports that Apple plans to make its Spotlight search into a serious web search engine to compete with the likes of Google and Bing.
Apple’s internal search team is being led by team involved with social search firm Topsy, which Apple acquired for over $200 million in 2013.
When Apple acquired Topsy it wasn’t initially clear what interest the tech giant had in a social search and analytics firm. Now it looks like Apple’s interest was in Topsy’s expertise in search and indexing.
The release of OS X Yosemite saw the new “Spotlight Suggestions” feature come to Apple desktop devices. This feature pulls in information from the web into Spotlight searches, and is also the driving force behind Safari’s suggested search results.
Just recently, it was revealed that Apple has its own web crawler, called AppleBot, which allows Apple to index pages on the web and serve those results to users without having to rely on a third party search provider.
AppleInsider believes there is enough evidence to suggest Apple intends to grow Spotlight’s web search into a general purpose search engine for Apple device users.
AppleInsider points to the fact that Apple has built up its internal search team since acquiring Topsy in 2013, and currently has over a dozen job listings for positions on the team.
The listings read:
“Apple’s new Spotlight Suggestions service provides fast, relevant search results from the Internet in Spotlight and Safari on iOS and OS X… The Spotlight Suggestions service is built on massive amount of data crawled from the Internet, sourced from feeds and generated from user interactions with search results.”
Considering Google has been the default search engine on Apple devices for years, it would be a significant blow to the search giant if Apple were to transition to using its own search engine.
That’s hundreds of millions of Apple devices that will no longer be searching Google by default. Presumably you would be able to change your default search engine back to Google if you wish, but with Apple’s tight restrictions on changing default settings you can never be too sure.