Taking Direct Aim At Google, Apple Puts Search Front And Center

Looks like Apple’s acquisition of Topsy and the work Apple has been doing with Chomp technology and engineers is coming into focus. Today during WWDC, the company announced some significant upgrades to search in its newest version of Mac OS, Yosemite — taking direct aim at search giant Google.

Specifically, Apple today highlighted a new box that will appear on the desktop to give users the ability to search not only files but also the wider web. A demo from Apple’s Craig Federighi also showed how Apple’s browser, Safari, will see a new search window that will let users look across and into specific apps — again making it less necessary to turn to Google .

The upgraded effort within Spotlight in Yosemite will see Apple combine search results from offline (that is, your own computer, and your iCloud files) alongside results from the wider web. That will also include integrations with Apple’s own calendaring and mapping apps. As Matthew pointed out in our liveblog, if Google already disintermediates sources at the search bar on Macs, Apple now one-ups them by doing it at the OS level, putting it on par with Google’s own integrated platform efforts.

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Apple has also ported those results to Safari, where they now also appear, alongside with links to relevant results from specific pages and apps.

Why is this important? If search is at the heart of how we consume information today, Apple is showing that it wants to step in and be a part of that process. As with its turn away from Google for maps, this is another sign of how Apple wants to strengthen and tighten up its own ecosystem. And that potentially gives it the basis to better monetise around the platform, as well as the more obvious benefit of giving Mac users a more integrated experience.

 

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Search also made other appearances in today’s keynote. The iPhoto app also presented a more detailed search, for example, which lets you look for photos based on location, time and albums that you’ve set up.

In iOS it gave search for apps a major upgrade as well, adding continuous scrolling and related searches, trending apps and editor’s choice. The backstory here is that the App Store is huge and has been much maligned by users and developers for being too difficult to navigate and discover content. This goes some way to fixing that.

This is not the first that we have heard about what Apple has been doing with search.

In fact, it seems like it’s been working on something big here for a while now.

Over the last year, Apple has, we’ve heard, poached a number of people from eBay who worked specifically on search. “This move from eBay to Apple is definitely happening,” an eBay person told me not too long ago, adding that it’s a tempting switch to make for those who live near the office in the South Bay. “If I go head East I reach Apple, West I reach eBay,” he said.

(Ebay-to-Apple is not the only direction that the talent moves, however.)