Apple Wins a patent that supports the rumor they're developing their own Search Engine that could replace Google
In late October a major news site reported that Apple was stepping up its efforts to develop its own search technology as US antitrust authorities threaten multibillion-dollar payments that Google makes to secure prime placement of its engine on the iPhone.
The Financial Post further noted that "In a little-noticed change to the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 14, Apple has begun to show its own search results and link directly to websites when users type queries from its home screen.
That web search capability marks an important advance in Apple’s in-house development and could form the foundation of a fuller attack on Google, according to several people in the industry.
The company’s growing in-house search capability gives it an alternative if regulators block its lucrative partnership with Google.
Bill Coughran, Google’s former engineering chief, who is now a partner at Silicon Valley investor Sequoia Capital weighed in by stating that "They [Apple] have a credible team that I think has the experience and the depth, if they wanted to, to build a more general search engine."
More importantly, perhaps, is that the Financial Times pointed out that "Apple’s frequent job advertisements for search engineers are not short on ambition, inviting candidates to 'define and implement the architecture of Apple’s groundbreaking search technology.'" For more on this, read the full Financial Times report by Tim Bradshaw in London and Patrick McGee in San Francisco.
Yesterday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that strengthens the argument that Apple may be developing its own web browser.
Apple's patent background states that it's often the case that searches for information stored in one or more data processing systems produce a very large set of items in the search results. For example, a search for information on the Internet (e.g., a web search using Bing or Yahoo or Google) often produces a list of search results that includes thousands of items (e.g., web pages) in the search results.
In order to make the search results more useful to users, the data processing systems that return the search results will sort or rank the results based on a rank or score that causes the list to show the items (e.g., web pages) in a particular order.
The score for an item that is used to sort the items in the search results can be based on an influence score of a domain that provides the item, and each item in the results can have an influence score that is used to rank or sort the items within the search results.
Systems that return search results use these influence scores that are developed based on an analysis of links to domains. The influence scores are developed by assigning a default minimum influence score to each and every domain in a corpus of domains that provide items such as web pages, and then the default minimum score is updated based on the number of links to a domain.
A domain that links to or points to another domain contributes or donates a portion of its influence score to another domain during the process of updating the influence scores.
The final result of updating the influence scores produces a data set in which all domains have a positive (non-zero) influence score, with some domains having significantly higher influence scores than other domains.
Apple's invention covers a process of creating influence scores can begin by initializing a domain influence scoring system for only a subset of all of the domains; in particular, the system can be initialized by allocating a predetermined initial influence score to each domain in the subset (and these domains can be hand selected as important "trusted" domains) while all other domains have an initial influence score of zero.
Apple's granted patent also covers a method in one embodiment for creating domain influence scores that can be used to rank search results.
Further, a method can also include generating a blacklist of domains, where the blacklist is used during the process of updating the influence scores for all domains, and the blacklist includes a list of blacklisted domains.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below shows an example of a system which can produce domain influence scores; FIG. 3 is a flowchart which illustrates a method.
Lastly, Apple notes that the systems and methods described in the patent can be implemented in a variety of different data processing systems and devices, including general-purpose computer systems, special purpose computer systems, or a hybrid of general purpose and special purpose computer systems. Exemplary data processing systems include server systems, desktop computers, laptop computers, embedded electronic devices, or consumer electronic devices.
Review Apple's granted patent 10,872,088 for finer details.