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Apple AI chief refers to iOS 17 Safari search feature in Google antitrust testimony

Apple AI chief John Giannandrea pointed out the quiet feature addition to Safari's search in iOS 17 as part of his testimony during Google's DoJ antitrust lawsuit.

The Department of Justice is in the middle of an antitrust trial with Google over allegations it has abused its power as the biggest search provider on the market. The trial, which has already involved a formal protest from Apple over the poor handling of secret data, also features testimony from Giannandrea.

During his testimony on Thursday and Friday, Bloomberg reports Giannandrea took the time to mention a feature of Safari for iOS 17 that wasn't reported on for its introduction. The quietly introduced feature allows users to set a different browser when using Private Browsing than the default.

Located in the Settings app under Safari and the subheading Search, there are two options. One, Search Engine, lets users select which browser is the default one for normal search, while the other is specific to browser searches under Private Browsing.

While the search can make it easier for users to switch between search engines with a single tap rather than navigating the Settings app, it also could give peace of mind to users. For example, they may feel safe in searching for things like Adult Content via a more privacy-forward search engine like DuckDuckGo than Google.

The lawsuit is expected to run for ten weeks, and has a number of Apple executives set to be called as witnesses, including Eddy Cue.

The allegations against Google cover areas such as payments from Google to Apple to keep Google as the default search provider on the iPhone. In iOS 17, Google is the default for the main browser search, while Private Browsing initially displays it will use whatever the default search has been set to.