Apple may be increasing efforts to build a search engine, reports have claimed.
The iPhone maker, which hired Google's head of search John Giannandrea back in 2018, has begun displaying its own search results to handset users with its latest iOS 14 update, according to The Financial Times.
The new software is reported to contain a limited Apple search engine handling web questions through a new "Today View" screen.
And the giant's "Applebot" - which helps build a map of the internet - has also stepped up activity over the past month.
Experts told the FT the moves point to Apple attempting to build a rival search engine.
The reports come as antitrust authorities in the United States investigate a Google deal with Apple that ensures it appears as the iPhone's default search engine.
The US Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit against Google, which was filed last week, highlighted payments between $8bn and $12bn paid by the tech giant.
It is claiming that Google's deals in effect result in an "exclusive" search engine arrangement.
The filing also stated that Google estimated that almost half of its search traffic in 2019 came through Apple devices.
Google is currently accessed 1.2 trillion times per year worldwide.
The Standard has contacted Apple for comment.