Key staff driving Apple search engine leave to rejoin Google

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2022
Four years after Laserlike was acquired by Apple to boost its web search technology, the founders have quit to rejoin Google.




Prior to forming Laserlike in 2015, Anand Shukla, Srinivasan Venkatachary and Steven Baker were all Google employees. Their work at Apple is one reason the company has been predicted to launch its own search engine equivalent to Google's.

Apple acquired Laserlike in 2018, though the deal wasn't made public until the following year. As part of the acquisition, the company's three founders were, and ultimately they led a 200-strong search team at Apple.

According to The Information, Srinivasan Venkatachary has now returned to Google. He is reportedly the company's new vice president of engineering.

Venkatachary reports to James Manyika, senior vice president of technology and society. Baker and Shukla now both work on Manyika's team. It's not known whether all three quit Apple at the same time, or whether Venkatachary is just the latest to move.

The Information cites an unnamed source with the details of the move, and the source also estimates that Apple is four years away from launching a Google rival.

Rumors of Apple planning to make its own search engine got a boost after the launch of iOS 14 in 2020. Siri Suggestions were then reportedly being rooted through Apple's Spotlight Search service, rather than being passed to Google.

With long and involved projects like search, it's not uncommon for staff to move between Apple and Google. In 2018, the same year Apple bought Laserlike, it also poached John Giannandrea from Google.

Giannandrea had been at Google for eight years, leaving as head of Machine Learning. He's now Apple's senior vice president of Machine Learning and AI Strategy.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,527member
    Leaving to report back to the mothership….
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 10
    Siri Suggestions were then reportedly being rooted through Apple's Spotlight Search service, rather than being passed to Google.
    Routed?
    gregoriusmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    That word rooted — I do not think it means what you think it means. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,286member
    I read that Apple's privacy is so difficult to make search results relevant to what users want to look for. That caused issues with engineers trying to determine the accuracy of search. After all, how can you really know what they are looking for if they cannot see data that's been encrypted? 


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    netrox said:
    I read that Apple's privacy is so difficult to make search results relevant to what users want to look for. That caused issues with engineers trying to determine the accuracy of search. After all, how can you really know what they are looking for if they cannot see data that's been encrypted? 
    Anonymised, not encrypted.

    If I had to test a search engine, I would want to know how to identify a brand-new search from a follow-up search (i.e. the first search didn't give satisfactory results, so the user modifies the search term). Point of origin is a big clue in making that determination, and point of origin is hard to track with anonymised data - unless you've done the work to assign a randomised ID to a user identity and properly separated the systems so that the user identity cannot be reverse-engineered from the random ID. This sort of thing is common in research projects; not so much in engineering projects.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    Apple desperately needs to improve their search (eg I always use Google to find Apple developer documents because Apple's own tools are so poor).

    If they had their own search engine, they could then make Maps a whole more useful informative about businesses etc.
    Calamander
  • Reply 7 of 10
    command_f said:
    Apple desperately needs to improve their search (eg I always use Google to find Apple developer documents because Apple's own tools are so poor).

    If they had their own search engine, they could then make Maps a whole more useful informative about businesses etc.
    I agree but seems the project has failed. Apple is too big and too corporate to really make their services better than they need to be. 

    Apple Services is simply not their bread and butter - it's always a second tier also-ran behind what creates cash, phones and hardware. Apple services are always 1% above the absolute minimum beyond which Apple would lose hardware sales. 

    I have been trying to use iCloud sync - with billions in expenses, vast data centers, and probably 1Bn users or more, you would think that it's as good as Dropbox. But it is worse in every aspect, I am switching back to Dropbox now. Even though Dropbox is basically like giving all your files to the CIA - but the service just works flawlessly. 
  • Reply 8 of 10
    command_f said:
    Apple desperately needs to improve their search (eg I always use Google to find Apple developer documents because Apple's own tools are so poor).

    If they had their own search engine, they could then make Maps a whole more useful informative about businesses etc.
    I agree but seems the project has failed. Apple is too big and too corporate to really make their services better than they need to be. 

    Apple Services is simply not their bread and butter - it's always a second tier also-ran behind what creates cash, phones and hardware. Apple services are always 1% above the absolute minimum beyond which Apple would lose hardware sales. 

    I have been trying to use iCloud sync - with billions in expenses, vast data centers, and probably 1Bn users or more, you would think that it's as good as Dropbox. But it is worse in every aspect, I am switching back to Dropbox now. Even though Dropbox is basically like giving all your files to the CIA - but the service just works flawlessly. 
    @Calamander  Could you please share a few details on why you think iCloud is inferior to Dropbox?
    macxpresswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,457member
    command_f said:
    Apple desperately needs to improve their search (eg I always use Google to find Apple developer documents because Apple's own tools are so poor).

    If they had their own search engine, they could then make Maps a whole more useful informative about businesses etc.
    I agree but seems the project has failed. Apple is too big and too corporate to really make their services better than they need to be. 

    Apple Services is simply not their bread and butter - it's always a second tier also-ran behind what creates cash, phones and hardware. Apple services are always 1% above the absolute minimum beyond which Apple would lose hardware sales. 

    I have been trying to use iCloud sync - with billions in expenses, vast data centers, and probably 1Bn users or more, you would think that it's as good as Dropbox. But it is worse in every aspect, I am switching back to Dropbox now. Even though Dropbox is basically like giving all your files to the CIA - but the service just works flawlessly. 
    @Calamander  Could you please share a few details on why you think iCloud is inferior to Dropbox?
    I would like to know as well...I've had great experiences with iCloud Drive. Maybe they're confusing iCloud Drive with the dumpster fire called OneDrive?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,510member
    I used Dropbox for several years, but no longer. It just seemed so barebones. 

    Honestly there's nothing wrong with iCloud Drive. If I only had Apple devices, and only used Apple services, and only for personal stuff, I don't see any reason I'd need to look elsewhere. While it's not the best choice if you have some non-Apple stuff, and completely inappropriate for business, it's great for the iPhone user who is committed to everything Apple. 

    EDIT: A comparison piece from Macworld: https://www.macworld.com/article/231363/the-best-cloud-storage-services-for-apple-users-2.html

    As for Windows, I don't use any MS services outside of the ubiquitous 365 which is almost a requirement for enterprise work.  Even if I prefer not to use it for our own company my customers do and they share files with me daily. 
    edited November 2022
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