Is Apple Weaning People Off Google?By: Chris Crum - June 2, 2014
As you’ve probably heard, Apple revealed its new Mac and iOS operating systems on Monday – OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 respectively. While the company didn’t exactly pitch them as such, it revealed some new features, which some think are designed to take on Google in the search department.
Do you think people will use Google any less as a result of new features unveiled by Apple? Let us know in the comments.
Apple didn’t come out verbally swinging at Google Search, but it certainly had digs at Android. Working up to the iOS 8 presentation, CEO Tim Cook dropped some iOS stats: over 800 million iOS devices sold, 100 million iPod touch units, 200 million iPad units, and 500 million iPhone units. They’ve had over 130 million new-to-Apple customers in the last year.
“Many of these customers were switchers from Android,” Cook said. “They had bought an Android phone by mistake, and then had sought a better experience and a better life. And decided to check out iPhone and iOS. Nearly half of our customers in China in the past six months switched from Android to iPhone.”
According to Cook, 89% of iOS users are running the latest version of the OS, compared to 9% for Android. Over a third of Android users are running a version from four years ago, he said.
“That’s like ancient history,” said Cook. “That means that these customers are not getting great new features. They’re not able to run your latest apps. They don’t get security updates that they may need to stay safe. This is particularly important for Android, which dominates the global malware market.”
iOS 8’s Spotlight feature lets you pull down on the home screen, execute searches, and find matches from the app store, Wikipedia entries, news, maps, songs from your own library and iTunes, movie theater results, content for streaming, etc. In Safari, you can get Spotlight suggestions in addition to Google suggestions. They’re also adding some new search-related features to the App Store, including top trending searches and related searches. Photos also gets some search improvements, like search suggestions based on location, time, and albums.
Of course Siri also got some improvements, including Shazam song recognition, the ability to purchase iTunes content, streaming voice recognition, and 22 new dictation languages.
Apple’s new emphasis on search was more obvious on the desktop though, with Yosemite. Interestingly, while Google still appeared in the Spotlight feature on iOS, in Apple’s presentation, Microsoft told Danny Sullivan that Bing “is powering Spotlight for both the forthcoming versions of Mac OS and iOS.” Apple did show Bing for the Yosemite feature.
The feature here lets you click on the magnifying glass and get a big search field right in the middle of your Mac’s screen. From there, you can quickly search through applications, documents, contacts, calendar, mail, messages, dictionary, calculator, system preferences, Wikipedia, Maps, News, App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store, “Top websites,” movie showtimes, and Bing. No mention of Google. We saw Apple get closer with Bing last year after distancing itself from Google in other ways like (most famously) dropping Google Maps, and adding Bing integration to Siri. Now, they appear to be taking it up a notch.
Sullivan even speculates, “It’s also a sign that Apple might be moving to turning Siri into its own branded search engine. Spotlight is handling a variety of different search tasks, similar to how Siri can. That’s a big change, and it could be a move toward Apple further distancing itself from Google search by using Siri as a stand-in.”
How long until Apple’s deal with Google completely evaporates, and Google is no longer the default for Safari, and is all but gone from the iOS experience without users having to manually add it?
Really, it would seem that Apple is encouraging users to use any search engine BUT Google. On its OS X Apps preview page, Apple says:
Safari now gives you more control over your privacy on the web. You can open one Safari window in Private Browsing mode — which doesn’t save your browsing history — while keeping others in regular browsing mode. So while you do your online banking privately in one window, your browsing history is still being saved while you surf in another. You can also now search the web using DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track you.
— DuckDuckGo (@duckduckgo) June 2, 2014
Apple also announced a new SDK for iOS 8 with 4,000 developer APIs. Who knows what will come from all of that? There’s no question that Apple’s latest iOS release is very geared towards developers, and that in and of itself could mean more iOS-first approaches for new apps, leaving Android playing catch-up, which wouldn’t be good for Google in general.
Among its developer offerings are tools for developers to create experiences that enable users to interact with home devices (locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches, etc) and health info. That’s some very personal stuff, and could eventually play into the search experience as well. It all points towards the iDevice as the controller to pretty much a person’s entire life. Google, of course, has its own approach to some of this stuff, but it could all end up turning into separate search engines for separate ecosystems. Apple users will have their search engines, and Android users will have theirs (Google), and ultimately, that could cost Google some market share and ad dollars.
Of course there are plenty of iOS-using Google users who aren’t going to be willing to completely abandon Google, even if they have to make some adjustments manually. Bing has come a long way though, and plenty will likely be willing to give it a try. In fact, Bing is celebrating its fifth birthday, outlining just how far it really has come.
Apple is showing no signs of reversing course, and making its software any more Googley. Google’s developer conference is later this month. We’ll see what they’e got up their sleeve.
Do you think Apple can hurt Google in search? Share your thoughts in the comments.