Earlier this year, there were rumors that suggested that Apple was in negotiations with Microsoft to bring the Bing search engine to iPhone users. This was seen as a move to potentially replace Google as the default search engine on the iPhone.
In addition to this, there were also speculations that Apple could be building their own search engine to take on the likes of Google and Microsoft on the iPhone platform.
In what could be seen as further testimony to these rumors, folks at iLounge have noted that Apple has made a subtle change in the newly released beta version of iPhone OS 4.0 by replacing the "Google" button at the bottom of the Safari search function with the generic "Search" term. iPad users might have also noticed this change. It is not clear if the decision has been taken to reflect potential new partnerships that Apple may forge in the future or is merely a move to do away with the Google branding on iPhone's mobile Safari web browser. As you may know, Google and Apple have not been in the best of relationships after Google made their foray into the mobile market with the launch of Android OS and Nexus One.
Apple has apparently incorporated several other subtle changes in iPhone OS 4.0. Apple has removed the "Rate on Delete" feature that prompts iPhone and iPod Touch users to rate an iPhone app when they choose to delete it from their iDevice. Developers have long argued that such a feature tends to skew the app rating process since only users who wish to delete the iPhone app are asked to rate and not those who choose to retain the application.
While these minor changes may not be as significant as the introduction of multitasking or folders in iPhone OS 4.0, they are nevertheless indicative of the interesting developments that one can expect with Apple's partnerships with third party service providers and how the user experience may change consequently.
We have updated the post with screenshots from iPhone OS 3.1.3 and iPhone OS 4.0 to give readers a better idea of the changes.
One of our reader points out in the comments that:
"Apple has not completely removed 'Google' branding from Mobile Safari.
The placeholder for the search-box still reads 'Google', and 'Google Suggestions' appear when typing something."
He also provides a possible reason for the change, which could be something to do with Google requesting it to be changed rather than Apple removing the branding:
"The main reason is probably because google has previously expressed it dislikes it's brand being nounified, this is probably why Apple replaced it with the more generic 'Search'."
What are your thoughts?