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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.

Taylor Swift:Searching Google for Ms. Swift first brought up news, then her home page, images, and then Listen Now ads for Rhapsody, Google Play, and iTunes. I could also jump to her various social media profiles, or tap one of her album covers to search for more info about that album. Regular results and in-depth articles came later.

Yahoo served up Taylor Swift news, then images, Wikipedia, web results, and more YouTube videos. Nothing about her albums or links to stream them on various services. Tapping "More Videos" returned more than a dozen of her music videos on YouTube, which is almost better than a link to a streaming service, since YouTube is free.

Bing led the search results with two giant ads that took up more than half of the screen, followed by videos on Vevo, then news, then regular web results, with images and the Wikipedia entry kind of sprinkled i — you'll see a couple of websites, then images, then a couple more websites, then Wikipedia, then more websites. It's kind of a mess, but again, the tabs along the top of the page let you jump to Images, Videos, and News, filtering out the rest of the cruft.

I was initially intrigued about the Lyrics tab on DuckDuckGo's results for Taylor Swift, but it just picked her song "Red" seemingly at random, and only the first verse was shown, with a link to MetroLyrics to get the rest. The Videos tab is great, though, with results from Vevo and YouTube, along with the view counts for each so you can easily tell the viral hits from the, uh, deeper cuts.

Who should win?

I'm sticking with Google mostly out of habit, but this experiment has made me wish I didn't need a default, since the search engines each have their own strengths and weaknesses based on what you're searching for. Instead, I'd like to be able to enter a term and then choose on the fly which search engine to use: DuckDuckGo if I'm shopping (or want to stay private), Google if I'm after images, Yahoo for local business, and so on.

What search engine do you use in Mobile Safari? If Apple changes the default away from Google next year, will you just go in and change it right back? Holler at me (not literally) in the comments.


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