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Which search engine should be crowned king of Mobile Safari?

Susie Ochs | Nov. 28, 2014
In the search engine game, it's all about eyeballs. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft rake in billions each year from search ads, and now those companies are competing to be the default search engine in Mobile Safari on your iPhone and iPad.

Bing did a better job of labeling Apple's Yosemite ad, along with an ad for the actual park. Tabs across the top of the page let you jump from Web to Images, Videos, and News, which is a nice touch. The results were mostly the same as Yahoo's (which isn't surprising), but I thought Bing organized them a little better.

DuckDuckGo has a neat tabbed design for search results, and I give it bonus points for being the only search engine to recognize the existence of Yosemite Sam. The ads are clearly marked, and I even like the use of favicons next to each URL. The main list of results was just websites (Apple's Yosemite OS was way down the list, an embarassing 25th, after two results for Yosemite the obscure 2014 movie. Weird. But the tabs let you easily jump to Images, Videos, About, Places, and even Products, which returned a grid of results from Amazon.

San Leandro pizza: I ran these searches near my house in San Leandro, CA (it's the new Oakland! OK, not really), so I thought this search might be illuminating on how well the different search engines could find local results.

Google did great, telling me where the pizza places were, when they opened, often how much I'd expect to spend (in a basic $ to $$$$ way, not with actual numbers), and a rating based on user reviews. I liked how it presented results three at a time — just enough to fill one screen — and then let me swipe through horizontally to see more.

Searching Yahoo gave me a map of the results right up top, with a horizontally scrolling list of pizza joints, with addresses and Yelp scores. I love how as I scroll through the list, the map updates, highlighting the one I'm looking at. The opening times aren't listed, but you can filter the results by Best Match, Highest Rated, Distance, and price — and flip the "Open now" switch to show only places ready and waiting to feed you. The next results were ads and Yelp pages.

Bing's results were topped with ads, then a map of results — the map isn't as attractive as Yahoo's, though, and I couldn't find any filtering options to sort the results by price, distance, or rating, which both Google and Yahoo provided. A banner along the top cajoled me to join Bing Rewards, which incentivizes you to stay signed into your Microsoft account when you search Bing. You'll earn credits toward gift cards for places like Starbucks, Burger King, and Amazon, or you can donate them to charity.

DuckDuckGo defaulted to the Places tab, and offered horizontally scrolling Yelp reviews, sorted by rating — which surfaced my two favorite pizza places immediately. But if you want a map of locations, you're out of luck. The Images and Videos tabs didn't return much of interest — who searches for pizza just to look at pictures of pizza? People on diets, maybe?


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