Apple has quietly begun looking into efforts to develop its own search engine technology for iPhones.
When iPhone users who have their software updated to latest iteration of iOS 14 type a query into the search window, Apple shows its own search results instead of those generated by Google, CNBC reported citing the Financial Times.
The software also autocompletes search queries, highlighting how it is learning from users' most common search queries. It is possible that only a few users will notice this change.
The action comes after regulators scrutinized the multibillion-dollar payments that Google makes each year to ensure that its search engine is installed as a default search tool in devices from several hardware sellers.
On October 21, the Department of Justice (DOJ) formally launched investigations into payments made by the search engine giant to Apple in order to be the iPhone's default search tool.
In a 64-page complaint filed by the US Justice Department and 11 states, California-based Google was accused of abusing its dominance in internet search and advertising.
Citing estimates made public, DOJ says that Google pays Apple between $8 billion and $12 billion per year to be the default search engine on Apple products.
An in-house search offering from Apple would provide the company with an alternative to Google search should authorities decide to block the partnership.
The Financial Times said Apple declined to comment. While Apple and Google did not respond immediately to CNBC's request for comment.