Apple and Google aren’t the good friends they used to be thanks to the rise of Android as the iPhone’s main competitor. Ever since Apple axed Google Maps in iOS 6, it has been clear that Google’s days in Apple’s software are numbered.
The hardest Google service for Apple to replace is undoubtedly search. Siri is slowly becoming its own search engine of sorts that draws from multiple services like Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia, but Google has remained the standard for traditional web search.
In iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Google is still set as Safari’s default search engine. But with the introduction of more search partners in Apple’s new software, it’s hard to believe that Google search will enjoy its prominence for much longer.
At last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple replaced Google with Microsoft Bing as the search engine powering Siri. Web searches that are trigged through Siri still go through Google search, but that’s only because it’s the default option in Safari—for now.
In Safari on both iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple has added a third search option for users: DuckDuckGo, a service that prides itself on protecting users’ privacy by not tracking searches. That’s the opposite approach of Google, which has recently had to amend its extensive user tracking behavior in the EU due to a new “right to be forgotten” ruling.
Bing has replaced Google as the default search option in Spotlight
In OS X Yosemite, Spotlight gets supercharged with an Alfred-like interface that is also integrated into the Safari menubar. Web searches in the new Spotlight are powered by sources like Wikipedia and Bing. Google is also an option, but its results are displayed under the other sources. Bing has replaced Google as the default search option in Spotlight on iOS 8 as well.
The only thing keeping Google as the default search option in Safari is likely a contract Apple signed several years ago, according to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. Google’s Eric Schmidt said that the company had renewed its search partnership with Apple back in 2011.
It will be interesting to see how Apple manages its search partnership with Google going forward. A lot has changed since Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt shared the stage to announce Google Search and Maps in the original iPhone. Before he died, Jobs famously threatened to wage “thermonuclear” war on Android for stealing Apple’s ideas.
During the WWDC keynote Monday, Google’s name was not said once by anyone onstage. The only attention that was paid to the search giant at all was by Tim Cook, who slammed Android. He said that nearly half of iPhone customers in China switched from Android last year. “They had bought an Android phone by mistake,” quipped Cook. “But then they sought a better experience and a better life. So they decided to check out iOS.”
For Apple, it’s becoming clear that “better” means less Google.