How and why Apple users should switch to DuckDuckGo for search

Apple users who care about privacy are moving to DuckDuckGo for search. These tips will get you started with it.

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Like liberty for all, privacy demands vigilance, and that’s why Apple users who care about those things are moving to DuckDuckGo for search.

Why use DuckDuckGo?

Privacy is under attack.

It doesn’t take much effort to prove this truth. At time of writing, recent news is full of creeping privacy erosion:

And then there’s Duck Duck Go.

With Duck Duck Go, you are the searcher, not the searched

I think most Apple users know about DuckDuckGo. It is an independent search engine designed from the ground up to maintain your privacy.

It means the search service doesn’t collect information about you, doesn’t gather your search queries, and doesn’t install cookies or tracking code on your systems.

It now also provides highly accurate maps thanks to a deal with Apple that lets it use the also private-by-design Apple Maps service. To do this, the search engine is using Apple’s MapKit JS framework, which Apple created so website owners could embed maps in their sites.

Maps on DuckDuckGo are quite satisfying and will only improve as Apple introduces more detailed maps, better local business listings, and additional feature. You should see this service in action here.

How Apple Maps works on DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo added Apple Maps support at the beginning of 2019.

Since then, it has introduced a set of compelling improvements to how it works, thanks to Apple’s framework. You now get better implementation of Maps in your search, including the benefit of local search results. Additional enhancements include:

  • Map re-querying: You can now refine search queries within the expanded maps view. You can also zoom in and out or move around the map to find other results that match your search.
  • Local autocomplete: You will be provided with search suggestions as you type based on the local region visible on your map. Type fuel in a map of the Arizona desert, and you can see how many miles you’ll need to walk if your fuel runs out.
  • Dedicated Maps tag: Look at the top of a search result, and you’ll find a Maps tab, which joins the images, videos, news, and meanings tabs.

There’s even a Dark Mode that is enabled when you switch to DuckDuckGo’s dark theme – when you switch, you’ll see the embedded Apple Maps also do so.

(Switch to dark theme in the search engine’s Settings, which you’ll find here. You can also discover much more information on how the search engine protects your privacy, primarily by not collecting it in the first place.)

How do they ensure your privacy when running map and address-related searches? DuckDuck Go explains:

“With Apple, as with all other third parties we work with, we do not share any personally identifiable information such as IP address. And for local searches in particular, where your approximate location information is sent by your browser to us, we discard it immediately after use.”

How to set DuckDuckGo as default search on Apple devices

There are two ways to use DuckDuckGo rather than Google for search:

1. You can visit the DuckDuckGo.com website and use search in your browser there.

2. You can also change your Mac, iPhone or iPad’s default search service in order to use the far more private alternative. I think most readers know about this, but just in case:

  • On a Mac: Safari Preferences>choose the Search tab and choose DuckDuckGo in the drop down list of search engine choices.
  • On iOS/iPad OS: Settings>Safari and select DuckDuckGo from the options provided in the Search Engine section. You need to do this for all your devices individually.

Once you change your default search engine, all the searches you make in the future will be made using the more private service. You may even want to switch to using MeWe as a social network to replace Facebook while you’re at it.

Up next…

“We believe there should be no trade-off for people wanting to protect their personal data while searching,” the search engine explains. “Working with Apple Maps to enhance DuckDuckGo Search is an example of how we do this and pushes us further in our vision of setting a new standard of trust online.”

This is all well and good, but how do they see this experience extending itself in future?

I am not currently in possession of a working crystal ball, but here are two realistic and possible ways the service could be extended:

  1. Imagine how cool this would be with the addition of Apple’s delightfully lag-free Look Around Street View-killer.
  2. Imagine how embedded AR experiences could also become part of what’s on offer through the search service.

Why not? We know Apple takes this stuff seriously. It is surely only a matter of time until it declines Google for search.

Like liberty for all, privacy demands vigilance. Be vigilant.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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