Apple moves Spotlight Search to iPhone Homescreen

Hat tip to @Colin on Twitter for this info. This will make a difference in usage.

I can see a couple of reasons for this move: 1. increase usage of Spotlight, 2. Apple has to be under pressure to open up Safari browser to other search engines, this mitigates that to some degree, 3. thinking several chess moves out - if I were Apple and going to someday switch to my own search index in Spotlight I would start preparing the ground now 1 or 2 years out and get people good and used to using Spotlight cos it’s so handy.

I’m out of date on iOS. Last I heard Google was default on Safari. I think, Bing was being used for Siri searches - is that still true? And I don’t know who is providing web search in Spotlight. Anyone know?

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Twitter thread referred to here.

Yes, Google is the default on Safari. In my personal opionion, Siri is already the undeclared Apple search engine. AppleBot is doing a lot of crawling. When you search with Spotlight you see Siri Suggested Websites. Apple aren’t showing their cards but moving gradually, doing their own thing as is their way:

  1. They have a $15bn deal with Google (worth a lot more if you consider P/E). For this Google maintain a monopoly, getting an enormous amount of traffic, which they monetize with Ads and write down as TAC (Traffic Acquisition Costs).
  2. That deal is under scrutiny and a class action lawsuit, including under Sherman Act, Section 2. I’m no attorney, but understand that’s criminal conviction territory for executives.
  3. Siri has a bit of a tainted brand.
  4. Spotlight produces all sort of search results from data on your device, the App Store, your Apps, iCloud and Web (using Siri).
  5. Is Siri using Bing? I don’t know. Possibly for some queries.
  6. Google put the Chrome moat around their search engine. Microsoft put their Edge moat around Bing. Apple could out a Safari moat around Siri, but that would damage $15bn from the Apple-Google deal. Expect that to come in the future.
  7. A deeper, and/or additional, moat is created by putting your search engine in the OS. That’s what Spotlight does.

If you haven’t looked at the Twitter thread then note the main finding reported there:

  • Suppose you setup Mojeek as your search preference in Chrome, & that is your default browser on your Mac or iPhone. If you have Google as your search preference in Safari, then the Spotlight directed search will be done with Google in Chrome, not Mojeek.
  • So, your own search engine preference is ignored. And Mojeek gets shunted out.
  • Astonishingly, even if you delete Safari, your search choice previously made in Safari (which in most countries can only be Google, Bing or Bing-lite; ie Yahoo!, DDG, Ecosia) will still be used by Spotlight, even if you have a different default browser from Safari.
  • Brazen. I’m no attorney, but a good one could have fun with this :wink:
  • So Spotlight ignores search preferences in competitor browsers, wiring Safari preferences into the OS.
  • Microsoft started doing something similar in Windows recently, with Windows-search-Edge-Bing as explained in a blog post.
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Back when I was using iPhone, I never used Spotlight because you had to pull it down from the top and I always forgot it was there. That and it uses Google which I try to avoid.

Never used Siri because I always felt silly talking to my phone.

Anyway that placement on the home screen means something. You can remove Spotlight from the home screen though.

Applebot is crawling fairly aggressively. I’m seeing them regularly on one of my sites.