DuckDuckGo to Release Private Browser for Mac in 2022

On Tuesday, DuckDuckGo shared its review of achievements and improvements in 2021. Looking ahead, the company plans to release a private browser for the desktop.

Instead of forking Chromium or anything else, we’re building our desktop app around the OS-provided rendering engines (like on mobile), allowing us to strip away a lot of the unnecessary cruft and clutter that’s accumulated over the years in major browsers. With our clean and simple interface combined with the beloved Fire Button from our mobile app, DuckDuckGo for desktop will be ready to become your new everyday browsing app.

Private Search Engine 'Xayn' Releases Web Version of its App

An AI company based in Berlin, Germany called Xayn has launched a web version of its private search engine app.

Both versions of Xayn use Masked Federated Learning to protect users’ data privacy while still providing them with an individually tailored web experience. They are created with the same code base in Flutter, a developing framework that’s designed to function both on mobile and web. The team transferred the AI to work directly in the respective browsers with high speed via WebAssembly so that all personal data stays privately within the browsers.

Looks like it doesn’t work yet on Safari.

Brave Prepares to Launch the Brave Search Engine

Private browser Brave is getting ready to launch its own branded search engine with its acquisition of Cliqz.

The former Cliqz dev team, who had subsequently been working on Tailcat, are moving to Brave as part of the acquisition. The engineering team is led by Dr Josep M Pujol — who is quoted in Brave’s PR saying it’s “excited to be working on the only real private search/browser alternative to Big Tech”.

Interesting move, and I look forward to more private search engines.

Hints of an Apple Search Engine Resurface

A report in the Financial Times (which is paywalled so I’m linking to TechCrunch) claims that Apple could be creating an Apple search engine. Or, maybe the company is instead improving search for Siri or Spotlight.

Apple is now showing its own search results and linking directly to websites when users type queries from its home screen in iOS 14. For context, this is a behavior that has been known for a while as people have seen the feature pop up in beta versions of iOS. And the search volume being up on Apple’s crawler is something that Jon Henshaw of Coywolf had noted back in August.

I’m going with the “improving Siri and Spotlight” take. Apple isn’t known for creating products outside its ecosystem (Music on Android and Apple TV on other devices notwithstanding).

Will we see an Apple Search Engine in the Future?

Jon Henshaw of Coywolf speculates that we may see an Apple search engine in the future based on several factors.

Apple is investing heavily in search, as shown in their job postings for search engineers. The job listings reveal they incorporate AI, ML, NLP, and more into all of their services and apps.

In July 2020, Apple published a significant update to its About Applebot support page. The additions are very similar to the details Google provides to webmasters and SEOs.

It’s an interesting idea, for sure. It could be an Apple search engine, or Apple adding improvements to Siri.

Startpage News Tab Gives You ‘Unprofiled’ News

Startpage News Tab is a new feature of the search engine that promises to give people news that hasn’t been personalized.

Personally curated feeds, sometimes referred to as a “filter bubble,” are based on an individual’s online behavior constructed by previous search queries, browsing history, social media clicks, IP address, device, and so on…Our goal with Startpage News Tab is to help people break out of that bubble.

Apple Rolls Out Smarter Web Answers for Spotlight Search

Some Apple users are seeing smarter web answers when they use iOS Spotlight Search and Siri.

The new web answers appear to be a further expansion of this technology. If the statistics are not readily available from the knowledge database, it seems Apple is now using algorithms to crawl websites and find possible responses to questions.

I think this is great, and it might be the first front-facing results we’re seeing from Apple’s hiring of John Giannandrea.