Apple plans to elevate the App Store search engine – report

Apple is gearing up to introduce its formidable internal search engine to the App Store and other apps, according to a recent update from Mark Gurman in Bloomberg’s Power On newsletter.

The groundwork for this expansion was laid when Apple unveiled enhancements to its Spotlight search feature in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. These improvements granted users the ability to search for web results, app-specific details, documents, and more, all within the Spotlight feature.

The newsletter reveals that a team led by former Google executive John Giannandrea is diligently working to integrate the internally dubbed “Pegasus” search engine even more deeply into both iOS and macOS. In an intriguing development, they are also exploring the use of generative AI tools to further enhance its capabilities. 

Last year, Apple introduced Business Connect, a tool designed to bolster its information repository with comprehensive data about businesses’ operating hours and locations. This strategic move appears to be aimed at strengthening Apple’s competitive position against industry giant Google.

Gurman astutely notes that while Apple’s Spotlight and app search engine may not match Google’s in terms of sheer power, Apple boasts a thriving App Store ads business. This business model allows Apple to serve ads within its other applications, such as Apple News and Weather. The combination of these elements provides Apple with a solid foundation to potentially launch its very own search engine, a possibility that may come to fruition sooner rather than later.

However, the decision for Apple to proceed with this endeavor remains uncertain. Apple executive Eddy Cue has previously expressed that the company does not necessarily need to create its own search engine. Furthermore, reports indicate that Apple turned down an offer to acquire Bing in 2020, suggesting that the company may explore alternatives to developing a search engine from scratch.

Apple is currently trying to deal with global antitrust lawsuits and rules over its App Store, as well as product improvements. As an indication of its commitment to enforcing new regulations that broaden its supervision of mobile apps, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) recently released a list of mobile app stores that have successfully submitted business information to regulatory authorities.

According to China’s cyberspace regulatory body, a comprehensive total of 26 app stores operated by major companies such as Tencent, Huawei, Ant Group, Baidu, Xiaomi, and Samsung have completed the necessary paperwork with the regulatory agency. However, Apple’s App Store is not on the list.

Written by Sophie Blake


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