Apple's Siri ditches Bing search for Google

If you'd rather see Google answering the questions that stump Siri, good news: Microsoft's Bing got the boot.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise processors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, science Credentials
  • I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Stephen Shankland
2 min read
Siri switched from Bing to Google to answer questions it can't handle on its own.

Siri switched from Bing to Google to answer questions it can't handle on its own.

Oscar Gutiérrez/CNET

When Siri can't give you an answer, it'll now be Google filling in the gaps in Apple's knowledge instead of Microsoft's Bing search service.

The Siri voice assistant built into iPhones, Macs and soon Apple's HomePod smart speaker can handle plenty of requests, like reporting a stock price or defining a word you don't know. When it can't, it searches the web. It's not perfect, but it can be useful.

Google now supplies the answers in that situation. "Switching to Google as the web search provider for Siri, Search within iOS and Spotlight on Mac will allow these services to have a consistent web search experience with the default in Safari. We have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible," Apple said in a statement.

iPhone users in China will continue to get results from Chinese search engine Baidu. Bing is still used for image search.

Quality is crucial for search results -- nobody likes it when a computer fumbles a query or gives us the answer to a question we didn't ask. And Siri has tough competition: Amazon's Alexa-powered devices are increasingly common and Google Assistant is available in Google Home smart speakers and some phones .

Google, whose mission is making the world's information accessible, is hungry for the business. The company pays an estimated $3 billion a year to Apple for search traffic, according to an August report by Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi. "Given that Google payments are nearly all profit for Apple, Google alone may account for 5 percent of Apple's total operating profits this year," Sacconaghi said.

Apple declined to comment beyond its statement.

First published Sept. 25, 11:05 a.m. PT.
Updated at 11:49 a.m. PT: Adds comment from Apple and that Baidu will still be used in China.