Speculation Over an Apple Search Engine Resurfaces, But Apple Likely Remains Focused on Siri and Spotlight

Multiple developers have seen increased activity from Apple's web crawler Applebot in their website logs recently, reigniting speculation that Apple could be planning to launch a full-fledged search engine eventually. However, it's more likely that any possible uptick relates to Apple's efforts to improve Siri and Spotlight search results.

iphone search
Jon Henshaw, founder of digital marketing insights firm Coywolf, kicked off the speculation with a blog post this week in which he said that Applebot had begun regularly crawling his websites on a daily basis, something he had not noticed previously. And on Twitter, Stack Overflow engineer Nick Craver and digital marketing consultant Michael James Field also noted spikes in Applebot crawling on websites they oversee in recent days.


Like other web crawlers, Applebot scans the web to help determine how search results should be ranked based on several factors, including user engagement, the relevancy and matching of search terms to a page's topics and content, the number of links that a page has received from other websites, and a page's design characteristics.

As noted by Henshaw, Apple updated its Applebot support document in July with new details:

• Added how to verify traffic from Applebot
• Expanded details on the Applebot user agent, including differences between its desktop and mobile version
• Expanded robots.txt rules
• Added a section stating that they don't just crawl HTML, but also render pages similar to Google
• Added a section on search rankings and the factors that affect how it ranks web search results

Given that Apple promotes itself as a privacy-focused company without an ad- or data-driven business model like Google or Facebook, it is uncertain if it would ever want to go down the avenue of launching a full-fledged search engine, although DuckDuckGo has at least shown that it can be accomplished with privacy in mind.

The idea of an Apple search engine has been speculated since at least 2015, when Apple first confirmed its Applebot and posted a series of search-related job listings.

For now, Applebot likely remains dedicated to improving Siri and Spotlight search results, as Apple states in its support document. During its WWDC keynote in June, for example, Apple said that Siri can provide over 20 times as many facts as three years prior.

Top Rated Comments

Picard J.L. Avatar
30 months ago
I'd switch in a heart beat. Can't be worse than Duck Duck Go.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
30 months ago
Perhaps Apple is looking to rethink how we 'search' for things on the internet.

It's become second nature that we just click on a box, type something, and then a bunch of text results appear - so perhaps Apple wants to try a different take on this. Maybe they would reorganise how all the information relating to that result appears, so as to adapt to how relevant the content is in relation to the results?

Either way I'd try it an a heartbeat. I think the whole concept of searching for something is ripe for change, given it really hasn't fundamentally altered since the birth of the search engine.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mi7chy Avatar
30 months ago
About time because it looks hypocritical when you market yourself as the champion of privacy, claim Google is evil then do this.

https://9to5mac.com/2018/09/28/google-paying-apple-9-billion-default-seach-engine/
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
30 months ago

People laugh at Apple trying to compete with Google in maps but think they’d be able to do it with search? Seriously?
Not by out-googling google. But by doing something different. Something that isn't aimed at advertisers, but at people. Giving you the information you are looking for, not a link to someone flogging something remotely similar to it.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
McKodiak Avatar
30 months ago
This wouldn't shock me. Everything Google does is for their customers, advertisers. Consumers hate the tracking. Apple will make a search that doesn't track and is more secure.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
m11rphy Avatar
30 months ago

People laugh at Apple trying to compete with Google in maps but think they’d be able to do it with search? Seriously?
Apple maps is great now, I use it daily in the UK and the US, if apple are committed to the cause of course they can do search
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Can't Get an iPhone 14 Pro? Here's Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 15 Ultra

Monday December 5, 2022 11:44 am PST by
Due to production issues at Apple supplier factories in China, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are backordered and basically out of stock at every store. If you were planning to gift or receive an iPhone 14 Pro model for the holidays and didn't already get one, you're basically out of luck because they're gone until late December. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple to Charge Under $100,000 for Apple Car, Launch Planned for 2026

Tuesday December 6, 2022 2:31 pm PST by
Apple is aiming to launch an Apple-branded consumer-oriented vehicle by 2026, and its goal is to hit a price point under $100,000 to make the car appeal to a wider range of customers, reports Bloomberg. Apple initially planned to design a car that might look similar to Canoo's Lifestyle Vehicle, where passengers could face one another in a limousine-style car with no steering wheel or...
iPhone Measure Height

Newer iPhones Allow You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly — Here's How

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:23 am PST by
iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models feature a LiDAR Scanner next to the rear camera that can be used to measure a person's height instantly in Apple's preinstalled Measure app. To measure a person's height, simply open the Measure app, point your iPhone at the person you want to measure, and make sure they are visible on the screen from...
introducing apple music sing

Apple Music Adding a Karaoke Experience With Apple Music Sing

Tuesday December 6, 2022 7:09 am PST by
Apple today announced Apple Music Sing, a new feature in Apple Music that lets users sing their favorite songs with adjustable vocals and more. Apple Music Sing will utilize Apple Music's real-time lyrics to allow users to sing to their favorite songs using adjustable vocals, background vocals, and duet view to allow more than one singer.Apple Music Sing includes: Adjustable vocals: Users...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

Major RAM Upgrade Coming to Next-Generation MacBook Pro

Friday December 2, 2022 2:03 am PST by
The next-generation MacBook Pro models could feature faster RAM, according to a recent report from a reliable source. MacRumors Forums member "Amethyst," who accurately revealed details about the Mac Studio and Studio Display before those products were announced, recently provided information about Apple's upcoming 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new machines are expected to feature...
nothing phone 2

Nothing Plans to Launch Smartphone in US to Take on Apple's iPhone

Monday December 5, 2022 12:38 am PST by
UK-based tech company Nothing plans to launch a smartphone in the US to directly compete with Apple's iPhone, according to a new report out today. In an interview with CNBC, Nothing CEO Carl Pei said the startup is in "early conversations" with American cellular carriers about launching a new phone in the US, but he stopped short of naming any of the carriers or the phone model. Nothing...
apple ar headset concept 1

Kuo: Apple Headset Shipments Potentially Delayed Until Second Half of 2023

Sunday December 4, 2022 7:38 am PST by
Mass shipments of Apple's long-rumored AR/VR headset may be delayed until the second half of 2023 due to unspecified "software-related issues," according to the latest information shared today by tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple headset render by Ian Zelbo Kuo said mass shipments of components for the headset are still likely to begin in the first half of 2023, but he believes that mass...
iOS 16

When Will iOS 16.2 Launch?

Friday December 2, 2022 2:13 pm PST by
Apple in late October began testing iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates, providing betas to both developers and public beta testers. As of now, we've had four total betas, with the fourth beta having been released earlier this week. iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 are expected before the end of the year, and we thought we'd try to narrow down the launch timeline. With only four betas released since...