• Apple was in talks with search engine DuckDuckGo (DDG) to replace Google for the private mode on Apple’s Safari browser.
  • DuckDuckGo as well as the private browsing mode doesn’t track websites that a user visits or keep a history of what websites a person has accessed.
  • Many interesting facts came up in the ongoing Google antitrust trial.
  • Judge Mehta decided to release the Apple and DDG executives’ comments with the exception of trade secrets.

Apple had explored the possibility of partnering with DuckDuckGo as an alternative to Alphabet’s Google as the default search engine for the Private Browsing mode on Apple’s Safari browser. Google would have remained the default in normal search mode. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that prioritizes user privacy. Unlike other search engines, DuckDuckGo refrains from monitoring the websites a user goes to or maintaining a record of their browsing history. The talks between Apple and DuckDuckGo took place between 2018 and 2019. However, the idea was ultimately rejected.

The ongoing Google antitrust trial is revealing some very interesting elements of the Apple-Google relationship. It has put the companies’ lucrative deal for Google search to be the default browser on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, under legal scrutiny. The anti-trust lawsuit against Google alleges that the search giant paid billions of dollars to Apple and other entities to be the default search engine on web browsers and smartphones.

These deals have kept other search engines, like Microsoft’s Bing and DuckDuckGo, from amassing more users and emerging as competitors to Google, according to federal and state antitrust enforcers. Giannandrea previously mentioned in court that iOS 17 has a new feature allowing users to choose different search engines for regular browsing and Private Browsing modes. However, Google remains the default for both.

Also Read: Apple iCar Speculations Are All Over The Internet

A Courtroom Drama Unfolds

According to a report by Bloomberg, the details of these talks, along with Apple’s discussions about buying Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine in 2018 and 2020, were revealed late Wednesday in transcripts unsealed by Judge Amit Mehta overseeing the US government’s antitrust trial against Google. The judge initially allowed DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg and Apple SVP John Giannandrea to testify about the negotiations in closed court.

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But later ruled that the testimony “goes to the heart of the case” and should be released. Apple and Google requested that the testimony remain private. However, Judge Mehta decided to release the executives’ comments with the exception of trade secrets, such as the project names within Apple, and the exact financial figures under discussion.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella testified on Monday about his company’s negotiations to persuade Apple to make Microsoft’s Bing the default search engine on Apple’s Safari browser rather than Google. Nadella said Microsoft was willing to lose billions of dollars if Apple made the switch.

The Justice Department argues that the Google-Apple deal, where Google pays Apple about $8 billion annually for a share of advertising revenue, hampers competition in the search market. They claim that switching from the default search engine is too complicated. Discussions with DuckDuckGo and Microsoft’s Bing are seen by some as negotiation tactics for Apple to get better terms from Google. Apple asserts they use Google because it offers the best results.

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About DDG

DuckDuckGo is an alternative search engine that is rising in popularity. For many years, websites like Facebook and Google have collected user data to either sell to third-party sites or use for their targeted advertising. It seemed harmless at first until the scandals began. This made users more aware of how their data is being used on the web and left many wondering how to have more online privacy. Enter DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine created by Gabriel Weinberg in 2008 that is dedicated to the online privacy of its users. Weinberg explained how the name was derived from the children’s game “duck, duck, goose.” He said of the origin of the name: “Really it just popped in my head one day and I just liked it.” DDG also has apps and extensions for various operating systems and browsers. So, you can still use Chrome, Safari, or any other favorite browser and avoid being tracked.

In addition to the indexed search results, DuckDuckGo displays relevant results, called instant answers, on top of the search page. DDG also includes what they call bonus features:

  • Shortcut commands that take you directly to other websites from the search engine.
  • Language and region localization.
  • Customizable themes, including a dark theme.

Typically, a website stores your IP address and the data. However, DuckDuckGo promises to hide your IP address when using its search engine. When you click on a search result, the link redirects the information request to prevent it from sending your search terms to the site. They don’t store search history, no third-party trackers, only unbiased and unfiltered results.

DDG Vs. Apple

DuckDuckGo said it was surprised that Apple never rolled out the change from Google to DuckDuckGo following months of talks. However, Apple’s Giannandrea said the company never seriously considered a switch, or else, he would have insisted on more due diligence. Giannandrea noted that an assumption of increased privacy for users would have been the motivation, but as DuckDuckGo relies on Bing for much of its search results, it’s unclear that it would be that much more private than simply using Google.

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After all of this chaos and drama, Apple seems to have pulled out of the idea of switching its default web browser to DuckDuckGo and rather continue with Google.