Switching Default Safari Search Engine on iOS

DuckDuckGo iOS

DuckDuckGo has been one of the default Safari search engines since iOS 8. I tried keeping an eye out on its progress as an alternative search engine to Google Search because of their Policy advocating on protecting user privacy. It wasn’t until late 2018 when a tweet from Walt Mossberg triggered me to revisit and review the progress. I switched my iPhone default search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo and initially thought I wouldn’t stick with it.

I thought Google will always be better at delivering the most relevant and correct results. I was wrong. I found DuckDuckGo equally useful to the point I switched to it on all of my iOS devices as the default search engine in Safari. It’s been a year since I made the switch and DuckDuckGo never faltered, to the point, throughout the year, I never thought about going back to using Google Search. Such is the way the mind works when you see no faults in whatever defaults you use as your go-to tool.

It all started with a realisation: most the things I search for are easy to find. Did I really need the all-seeing, all-knowing algorithms of Google to assist me? Probably not.

I came across this article by James Temperton, writing for WIRED UK on why he ditched Google for DuckDuckGo. It made me realise throughout the whole year using DuckDuckGo, I share many of the same sentiments towards the privacy first search engine and equally, the realisation I don’t need Google.

DuckDuckGo works in broadly the same way as any other search engine, Google included. It combines data from hundreds of sources including Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia and Bing, with its own web crawler, to surface the most relevant results. Google does exactly the same, albeit on a somewhat larger scale. The key difference: DuckDuckGo does not store IP addresses or user information.

I seldom carry out deep searches that require a predefined set of parameters, like site-specific searches, for example. My searches are usually all basic; a word, name, simple phrases etc. For that, DuckDuckGo is just as good as Google Search, and the interface returns relevant results unlittered with promotional products and services from Google that relates to your search term when you use Google Search. Whatever Google was flogging at me when I performed searches was the least of my worries. Behind the scenes tracking and collecting of personally identifiable user data was what I wanted to limit.

If you are conscious about privacy and not already using DuckDuckGo, do not chary, make the switch now. You might also find out you do not need to rely only on Google Search.

Switching to DuckDuckGo on your iOS devices is easy: Settings app > Safari > Search Engine.

It works across the board on iOS, from Safari’s search bar to Spotlight search, and when you use the Lookup option from selected text, they all default to using DuckDuckGo to search and deliver results. You can also download the App.

Chambyte @Chambyte