Brave, the desktop and mobile browser based on Chromium code, is gaining a lot of steam. Its stated mission of protecting privacy and blocking malicious advertising resonates with a lot of users, particularly those who are growing weary of Google's track record on both. Brave's latest move is an acquisition of Tailcat, a small open source search engine out of Europe.
Following the Indian ban of almost 60 Chinese apps including TikTok and Weibo, many people living in the country now report not being able to access the privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo. The company confirms as much, saying that the problem isn't on its end. It's currently talking to local internet service providers to resolve the issue. It looks like these have blocked the service via their DNS servers, as the search engine is still accessible through most third-party DNS resolvers.
Back in 2010, Hipmunk launched with the promise to simplify and improve flight search across multiple airlines and released an Android app soon after. Its innovations have long been copied by other search engines including Google, which made it hard for the company to keep up. It was acquired by SAP Concur in 2016, and Hipmunk has announced today that it will shut down for good on January 23. The business-focused Concur Hipmunk service is also retiring.
Following the EU's record antitrust ruling against Google back in 2018, the European Commission asked the company to give Android users the option to set other search engines as default. That prompted Google to take the opportunity to make even more money by auctioning which companies to feature as default search engine providers. The winners have now been published, and it looks like privacy advocate DuckDuckGo and meta search engine Info.com have taken the crown across the continent.
Google's ongoing European saga just saw a new development. After the record $5 billion antitrust fine issued by the European Commission last year, the company had to implement new screens to ask users if they wanted additional browsers and search engines on their devices, and now it's taking that one step further by making the search engine choice a default. However, as would any for-profit company do, it's using this as an opportunity to charge search providers that want to be featured.
Google has thousands of custom-built servers that scan the web every single second for new content... except right now. Google stopped indexing new webpages a few hours ago, but the company says a fix is on the way.
Google has been facing a lot of backlash from the EU (and other countries) regarding its dominance over several markets, including online search. "Backlash" is a tame word to describe it too, there have been lawsuits, huge fines in numbers we can't fully comprehend, and lots of politics at stake. But whether this latest change in Chrome's search engines is related to that or not, we'll let you decide.
News of Google's censored Chinese search engine project Dragonfly has steadily leaked since August, angering many of the company's own employees - especially after the response that filtered down from the higher-ups was essentially: yes, we might compromise core values for business. A group of over 170 employees have now banded together to address the issue publicly with an article and petition posted on Medium in partnership with Amnesty International entitled "We are Google employees. Google must drop Dragonfly."
For search engines, there's nothing more lucrative than being the default provider on a popular web browser. In the past, companies have paid massive amounts of money for the position; Yahoo gave Mozilla over $300 million to be the default engine for Firefox, but the company was later outbid by Google. A new report estimates that Google's place as the default iPhone search engine is costing the company $9 billion this year.
As Google so aptly states, we often pose nuanced, and sometimes ambiguous, questions to our favorite search engines. While we as humans often understand such questions in context, especially if we know each other well, search engines are not that smart or aware. Google is hoping to address that with the addition of its new multi-faceted featured search snippets.