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iOS 17 has a ‘secret’ Safari mode that lets you browse using an alternative search engine

Safari will now offer iPhone users the chance to bypass Google  (Apple)
Safari will now offer iPhone users the chance to bypass Google (Apple)

A so-called hidden mode on iOS, Apple’s operating system, is allowing iPhone users to bypass Google and use another search engine to browse Safari.

Former top Google executive John Giannandrea, who has been at Apple since 2018, said on Monday that a “second setting, so you could choose between two different” search engines had been released with the updated iOS 17 on Monday.

The change means that users can now potentially easily tap between which of the search engines they want to use. They will be able to choose between Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo or Ecosia in private browsing.

Scottish-born Mr Giannandrea was speaking at a Washington federal court on Monday where it is alleged that Google has illegally maintained a monopoly over online search content, Bloomberg has reported.

Google is accused of maintaining its stake within web browsers and smartphone makers - which includes Apple, where the search engine is preselected in web browsers and computers. For their part of the deal, Google pays Apple some of the revenue it earns through advertising, which is between $4 billion and $7 billion (£3.3 billion to £5.7 billion).

Mr Giannandrea, Apple’s head of artificial intelligence and machine learning activities, testified on Thursday before speaking for four further hours on Friday.

His comments follow DuckDuckGo chief executive Gabriel Weinberg saying that “switching is way harder than it needs to be” for users trying to leave Google.

“There’s just too many steps,” Mr Weinberg told a federal court on Thursday.

DuckDuckGo chief executive Gabriel Weinberg (AP)
DuckDuckGo chief executive Gabriel Weinberg (AP)

How to change a search engine on iOS 17?

Users can find this by going to the settings bar in Safari and clicking “search” and then “search engine” before “private browsing” - where two options will be presented.

Google’s lawyer John Schmidtlein said: “It is literally four taps on the phone.

“Go to settings, tap Safari, then search engine, then make a selection. It takes a matter of seconds.”