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Apple executive divulges hidden Safari setting with second search engine option during sworn testimony

According to Bloomberg, John Giannandrea, Apple’s senior vice president of Machine Learning and AI, testified this past week during the DOJ via Google antitrust trial. While Apple is not a defendant in the suit, the multi-billion dollar deal it has with Google is part of the testimony. The search giant pays Apple an obscenely large amount of money every year to be the default search engine on the iPhone. The DOJ said earlier in the trial that this figure is $4 billion to $7 billion annually.

The Apple executive, while sworn to tell the truth on the stand, revealed that iOS 17 added a feature allowing users to select different search engines on their iPhones. One of the settings is for normal browsing using Safari and the second setting is for private browsing using Safari. Google is still the default choice for both settings although you can make a change.

To change your default search engine from Google, go to Settings > Safari, and under the Search heading, you’ll see options for Search Engine and Private Search Engine. Tap on Search Engine and you can choose among:

  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Bing
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Ecosia

Tap on Private Search Engine and you can choose from the exact same list of search engines. Before iOS 17, users could only select one search engine that could be used for normal and private browsing. With iOS 17, Apple added a way for users to choose a second search engine specifically for private browsing on Safari.

Additionally, the process makes it easy to change search engines and replace Google on the iPhone. Yet on Thursday, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg testified that Google’s status as the default search engine on many mobile browsers can be seen as a barrier preventing users from switching away from Google. Weinberg said that there are “just too many steps.” Frankly, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the iPhone.

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