Apple Doesn’t Truly Let You Change Search Engines

Apple’s icon to denote privacy.

Apple lets you go into iOS settings and change your default search engine. But Google is still the default engine when you search via Spotlight.

Spotlight Search

Despite Apple giving you the choice to switch search engines, namely a privacy-positive one like DuckDuckGo, it still defaults to Google when you search via Spotlight.

Granted, it’s not difficult to open Safari and search via DuckDuckGo, instead of swiping down to search with Spotlight. But it’s an extra step that I didn’t expect (and shouldn’t expect) when using iOS. After all, Apple trumpets privacy when it comes to its products.

Google search spotlight

However, privacy has a price, and for Apple the loss of privacy cost roughly US$12 billion this year. That’s an estimate according to Fortune. It also says Google paid Apple US$9 billion last year, so this number is increasing. With a market valuation reaching US$1 trillion, Apple obviously doesn’t need this money. So why make Google the default?

At this point, “googling” something is now a household synonym with searching the internet. A good argument could be made that “Google” is now a generic trademark, although the company could probably still enforce its proprietary origins. But that doesn’t explain Apple’s choice.

I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned with Apple when it comes to privacy. Recently I reported that Apple services seemingly collect your location data even when you turn it off. It doesn’t matter to me whether that data is anonymous and encrypted. It’s the fact that the company doesn’t tell you this is happening and pretends that it’s “expected behavior.” Nor does iOS 13 give you alerts when Apple apps use your location in the background, even though Apple enforces this for third-party apps.

Privacy should include privacy from Apple itself, not just when it points a finger at Facebook and Google. We do experience a bit of this when it comes to encryption, like iMessage or certain parts of iCloud. But with this issue, and also other issues like the fact that Apple didn’t inform users that it used their Siri voice requests, I worry that there’s a double standard.

Further Reading:

[Calendars by Readdle Now Lets You Add Outlook Accounts]

[BMW No Longer Charges for Apple CarPlay]

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