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In a riveting turn of events at the Department of Justice’s antitrust suit against Google, Apple’s powerhouse, John Giannandrea, Senior VP of ML and AI Strategy, took center stage. Giannandrea divulged a clandestine feature tucked away in iOS 17, revolutionizing how users interact with their iPhone’s default search engine.
While Apple is not a defendant in this case, it finds itself intricately woven into the fabric of the proceedings. The mammoth multi-billion-dollar deal between Apple and Google, designating Google as the default search engine across iPhones, iPads, and Macs, is a linchpin of this trial. The DOJ scrutinizes this arrangement as a potential cornerstone in Google’s alleged monopolistic behavior within the search industry.
Bloomberg reports that during the Thursday and Friday hearings, Giannandrea shed light on a discreet addition in iOS 17: a setting empowering users to select two distinct default search engines for their devices. One setting caters to regular Safari browsing, while the novel second option is tailored for Private Browsing.
It’s worth noting that Google maintains its default status for both configurations. The game-changer lies in the newfound granularity, allowing users to personalize their defaults for both Safari modes. This game-changing feature can be unearthed in the Settings app, nestled within “Safari,” under the all-new “Private Search Engine” option. The selection ranges from the tech juggernaut Google to Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Ecosia.
While this innovation discreetly navigated under the radar during iOS 17’s beta phase over the summer, it now stands tall in the spotlight, with Apple emphasizing its significance within the Google partnership.
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Giannandrea’s testimony bears immense weight in this case. With a tenure at Google spanning eight years before joining Apple in 2018, where he served as the Senior VP of Engineering for search, his insights offer a unique perspective.
The stage is set for Apple’s Eddy Cue and Adrian Perica to take the stand. Apple contended that their testimonies were superfluous, but the court ruled otherwise, underscoring the pivotal role they may play in this landmark case.