Rumors involving a possible search bot from Apple first surfaced late last year when website owners noted seeing web crawler visits from addresses starting with 17- the IP address number block owned by Apple.

Applebot

The Cupertino-based tech giant just confirmed that it has an Applebot web crawler. They explained that Applebot was used by some of its products, including Siri and Spotlight suggestions. It respects the customary robots meta tags and robots.txts rules. Siri uses both Wolfram Alpha and Bing for web searches. This fact leaves the question as to why Apple would need its own indexing of the internet, pointing to the speculation that Apple is on to something grand.

Applebot web crawlers may not mean a search engine is in the works

There is a possibility Apple could launch a search engine, but it’s still highly unlikely. According to 9to5 Mac, Apple is a tech company that focuses primarily on hardware. Although the company has a stronghold on the music market with iTunes and Beats Music, the its strengths primarily remain in the hardware industry. It is also important to note that Apple rejects ad-funded business models. Last year, CEO Tim Cook said he believed ad-funded models meant users become a commodity.

The best (and most likely) reason for Apple to employ Applebot web crawlers would be to supplement other search engines. The bots help other search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo bring the best results to its services.

Apple secures patent for Apple Watch

Apple also recently won a design patent for the Apple Watch. The patent consists of nine line drawings of the Apple Watch body, including a curved square shape complete with indentations for the watch band to slip into. The patent design also includes prominences for the digital crown, sensor array on the rear, and a single button. Beyond the design’s line drawings, the patent also includes a body of references to rival smartwatches.

Apple first filed the smartwatch patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office last summer.