The spotlight is Apple’s search engine and it’s starting to look like Google

The spotlight is Apple's search engine and it's starting to look like Google

At the time, I suggested that an Apple search engine could be so tightly integrated into the operating system and native apps that Spotlight searches could slowly steal away queries that would have otherwise been made on Google. A year later, it has become clear to me that Spotlight is Apple’s search engine, and it’s well-positioned to start taking market share and ad revenue away from Google Search. Spotlight represents a true universal search tool that is perfectly integrated with the operating system. It’s similar to Android and the Windows search box, except that Apple doesn’t force it into view as Google and Microsoft do. Instead, the user swipes down from the middle of the screen to make it appear on iOS and iPadOS or clicks on a menu bar icon or types a keyboard shortcut (⌘-Space bar) on macOS.

Spotlight search in iOS and iPadOS 15 betas now returns rich results as well as online image search results. Apple’s Spotlight is likely to eat into Google Search’s market share since queries skip Google’s search engine altogether. Coywolf News reported in August 2020 that Apple was displaying signs of preparing to create a search engine. Two months later, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google, reigniting suspicions about an Apple search engine.


  • If Apple can provide a better experience than Google Search, and users change their search behavior to prefer using Spotlight, it could result in a significant reduction of searches on Google in the future. The new Spotlight features are expected to launch with iOS 15 and macOS 12 (Monterey) in Fall 2021. If you like web technology and marketing news, along with the occasional random stuff, then this is the newsletter for you. No ads. No sponsors. No spam. Only interesting and timely stories. Unsubscribe anytime.

  • Spotlight has primarily been used to display local results, like contacts, files, and apps. However, over time it has evolved to include more and more web results. Now, as Juli Clover, Senior Editor at MacRumors discovered, Spotlight in iOS and iPadOS 15 beta has gained rich results and web images search results that are similar to Google’s search results. Movie rich results and image search results in iPadOS 15 beta The direct mimicking of Google’s search results in Spotlight shows that Apple has essentially created a direct competitor against Google Search. And akin to Neeva, it is ad-free, private, and provides personal results for local and cloud-based files.