Google has dominated the search engine scene for years. According to a new report, however, that could be set to change: Apple is said to be “stepping up efforts” to develop an alternative to Google Search, following a little-known change in iOS 14.

The change in iOS 14 sees Apple’s iOS show its own Web search results (rather than searching via Google or Bing) when users type search terms into Spotlight from the Home screen. This, combined with Apple’s hiring of John Giannandrea (Google’s former head of search) in 2018, has prompted the Financial Times to argue that an Apple-developed search engine is incoming.

On top of that, Apple is also said to post regular job ads for search engineers – another piece of evidence in favor of a forthcoming Apple search engine.

Of course, none of this is groundbreaking stuff – we’ve been hearing rumors about a so-called Apple Search since 2015, although there’s been some on-and-off debate as to whether this long-rumored feature is a fully-fledged search engine or merely a development of Siri.

This more recent development comes at an interesting time, however: the U.S. Justice Department is currently targeting Apple and Google as part of an antitrust case, based on the fact that the search engine giant pays Apple as much as $12 billion per year to be the default iOS search engine. Apple has come under fire for so-called anticompetitive behaviour with regard to the matter – not only does the company agree to the shady deal, but Apple is also reported to frequently hike up its annual fee through regular renegotiations.

Could Apple be developing its own in-house search engine in preparation for an Apple-Google breakup? It makes sense. And with Google’s questionable privacy and tracking practices well-known, an Apple search engine – with a focus on security and user privacy – could be a great addition to our devices.