And no, he didn’t say DuckDuckGo. Instead, he told Axios that Google had the best search engine out there, despite often criticizing the company for its lack of privacy. Cook made the comments during an interview on Axios‘s HBO series. When asked if Apple’s multibillion search deal with Google to make it the default search engine in Safari on iOS devices was a violation of Apple’s privacy beliefs, he dodged a bit, instead stating why Apple makes Google default in Safari (besides making the company a ton of cash):
One, I think their search engine is the best.
Cook went on to explain that other privacy tools built into iOS’s Safari can help nullify Google’s data collection:
But two, look at what we’ve done with the controls. We have private web browsing, we have intelligent tracking prevention. We come up with ways to help our users through the course of the day. It’s not a perfect thing, but it goes a long way in helping.
In the interview, Cook also touched on the need for government to regulate tech companies when it comes to privacy:
Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of regulation. I’m a big believer in the free market. But we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn’t worked here. I think it’s inevitable that there will be some level of regulation. I think Congress and the administration at some point will pass something.
He also added that tech companies should embrace any privacy regulations, not fight them:
This is not a matter of privacy versus profits, or privacy versus technical innovation. That’s a false choice. Your device has incredible intelligence about you, but as a company I don’t have to have that.
For what it’s worth, Apple does makes it incredibly easy to change the default search engine in Safari on iOS to a more privacy-focused service. But until other search engines can pony up the cash that Google drops in Apple’s lap every year, it’s likely Google will stay Safari’s default search provider for the foreseeable future.