Apple Could Challenge Google In These Two Key Technologies

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Apple could be about to take Google on with two new products: search and self-driving cars.

The Cupertino, California-based company’s possible search ambitions were revealed in a new job listing seeking an engineering project manager for something called Apple Search. According to the job description, the successful candidate will oversee backend operations for a “search platform supporting hundreds of millions of users.” In doing so, they will “play a part in revolutionizing how people use their computers and mobile devices.”

While it’s entirely possible that the job would be working on Spotlight Search—the OS X feature that allows Mac users to search for files—this isn’t the first time the possibility of an Apple-branded search engine has been raised. In 2012, Apple hired Amazon and AltaVista search expert William Stasior. Last year, developer Jan Moesen discovered a web-crawling bot originating from Apple’s servers.

In addition, The Information has reported that Apple’s long-term agreement with Google to provide search functionality for Apple’s Safari browser ends this year—meaning that Apple may be looking to cut out the middleman and take over the role of search itself.

Given the expanded role Spotlight Search now plays (OS X Yosemite added the ability for it to pull information from online as well as local hard drives), combined with Apple’s continued work on its virtual assistant Siri, the idea that Apple may look to enter the search space certainly isn’t out of the question.

Self-driving cars are another area in which Apple would look to dethrone Google, which has long explored the technology and boasts an early mover advantage. Recent photos and video show an Apple-registered car driving through the streets of Concord, California. As with Google’s self-driving car, the van appears to have dozens of cameras mounted on its roof.

Aside from autonomous vehicles, another possible explanation is that Apple is gathering the data to add a Street View-style feature into its mapping projects. Apple’s initial entry into mapping was a disaster—resulting in the firing of executive Scott Forstall—but the company has since looked to get back on the right track.

At present, neither of these innovations has been announced by Apple, which means it is probably best to take them with a pinch of salt. That said, it would be fascinating to see how these technologies might fit into Apple’s existing product ecosystem. Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously been critical of Google’s data-mining business model on account of its privacy implications.

Were Apple to jump on some of Google’s areas of research, and to do it in a way that reduced some of the privacy and ethical concerns, it could manage to compete despite Google’s early lead.

[via Cult of Mac]

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