Apple has been working on its own search engine for years. It’s called “Pegasus” and it can become a disaster for Google

The Apple Inc. logo is seen outside of the company's new flagship store at Union Square in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 19, 2016. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
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The antitrust trial to which Google is subject has brought to light some of the most striking data about this giant’s search business. These days we learned that Samsung was considering changing its default search engine , but above all  Microsoft tried to sell Bing to Apple . The Cupertino company has nevertheless continued to rely on Google as a search engine on its devices, but now we know that could change.

Pegasus . As revealed in Bloomberg, Apple has been working for years on the development of its own search engine. We already knew about that project , but now we have more details: its code name is “Pegasus”, and at the head of that project is John Giannandrea, who was a director at Google and is now responsible for the machine learning and AI division at Apple .

It is already used in Spotlight and Siri . The technology developed by Apple is already being used in some of its products. We have the best example in Spotlight, the launcher and search engine integrated into iOS and macOS. In its last two versions, Spotlight offers results that show websites that could answer the user’s query. This option, which has also been used in Siri, has also been promoted by both Google and Bing.

A search engine and a chatbot in sight? According to these same sources, Apple could soon integrate these search options in a more “deep” way in both iOS and macOS, and there is also talk of the possibility of reinforcing said technology with the generative AI tools in which Apple is also involved . working under the direction of Giannandrea.

Interesting acquisitions . In 2019 Apple acquired the startup Laserlike , which had been founded by former Google employees and which aimed to create a web content personalization, discovery and search platform using machine learning. Although several leaders from that company have returned to work at Google, the rest of the team is still part of Apple and the technology they developed has undoubtedly contributed to the development of the Pegasus project.

For now, limited . It is important to note that this search technology that is already beginning to be used in Spotlight is still limited compared to what Google is capable of doing. Still, it’s a good foundation on which to offer a complete search engine if Apple decides to do so in the future.

Google is better. For now . Eddy Cue, head of Apple’s services division, testified last week in the antitrust trial against Google. When asked about the reasons why they use the Google search engine by default in their services, Cue explained that it was the best search engine and “there were no valid alternatives” for them.

A huge threat . And yet, the development of Pegasus points to a disturbing possibility for Google: that Apple ends up launching its own search engine and makes it the default option on its iPhone, iPad and Mac. That would be a huge blow for Google, which It pays a fortune to Apple so that searches on iPhones and other products are carried out through its search engine. That, of course, generates enormous income for those in Mountain View.

Control . The situation is analogous to what Apple experienced with Intel: it depended on it for its Macs until it launched its Apple M1 in 2020. They took that same step much earlier with the iPhone, which starting with the iPhone 4 in 2010 already used the first chips designed by Apple. The company has been eliminating manufacturer dependencies on its devices to achieve almost absolute control of the entire development cycle, and that could now also happen with searches and, perhaps, with advertising .

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