Apple still has a ways to go before it could take on Google with its own search engine.
As reported by The Information (opens in new tab), a number of engineers on Apple’s search team, which roughly employs two hundred people, have left the company for Google. According to the report, many of those who left were previously at the technology competitor, so engineers seem to be bouncing back and forth between the two tech giants.
The exodus seems to be specifically from the founders of Laserlike, a search startup that was acquired by Apple back in 2018. The startup, which was founded by three former Google Search engineers, would “recommend websites to people based on their interests and browsing history.”
Apple acquired the company in an effort to boost its search capabilities across Spotlight and Siri. According to the report, Laserlike co-founder Srinivasan Venkatachary became a senior director on Apple’s search team after the acquisition. The team, which, according to “a person with direct knowledge of the structure,” consisted of roughly two hundred people.
Back to Google they go
Despite working for the company over the last four years, it appears that Laserlike’s founders have left Apple and are heading back to Google. According to someone familiar with the matter, the loss sets Apple’s ambition to improve Siri and Spotlight back. The report goes on to say that the team they left is “quietly developing search capabilities that might compete head-on with Google’s.”
Apple has been rumored to be working on its own search engine to rival Google’s for years, but the company has been very quiet about it. Google continues to pay around $15 billion every year to be the default search engine on the iPhone.
Apple’s latest move in search was to add the Spotlight search button at the bottom of the home screen on the iPhone with iOS 16. Now, instead of needing to swipe down from the home screen to get into Spotlight, users can simply tap on the Search button towards the bottom of the home screen.
It’s a small change, but one that shows Apple wants you to use its search capability over launching Chrome on your phone.