Wednesday, 2023 September 27

ByteDance’s news aggregator tests larger search bar on Android, betting bigger on online search

Jinri Toutiao, Bytedance’s news aggregator, has been testing a redesigned search bar for its app on some Android devices, as the valuable startup is vying for a toehold in the online search market while Baidu Search is lagging behind in the mobile internet game, 36Kr reported.

At the top of the new app’s homepage, only available to certain devices, a strip-shaped search bar is introduced with the “Toutiao Search” name on it, which takes up one-third of the whole screen. Previously, the main page was almost entirely occupied by news feeds recommended by proprietary algorithms.

ByteDance didn’t disclose when the function will be applied to iOS devices or released officially.

The revamp marks Bytedance’s latest action in its efforts to challenge Baidu’s dominant position — from the PC era — as the main search engine in China.

The Beijing-based startup made its first foray into the online search sector earlier in 2017 when it hired Wu Kai, the head of 360 Search, to lead ByteDance’s search business. In August, ByteDance started to recruit new talents widely, seeking to develop a generic search tool for mobile internet users. Furthermore, ByteDance completed its acquisition of online encyclopedia service, China’s version of Wikipedia and one of the largest local online encyclopedias, the main rival for Baidu Baike, KrASIA wrote.

ByteDance’s search portal, called Toutiao Search, was launched on August 12 of this year, and currently returns a mix of results from the web and the company’s own platforms.

However, it has met regulatory hurdles on its way. Two days ago, the Beijing office of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the nation’s internet regulator, ordered Toutiao Search to clean up “relevant information” on its search engine, saying that its results led to “slanderous” information on Fang Zhimin, who is viewed as a revolutionary martyr by the Chinese Communist Party, state media Xinhua reported.

Wency Chen
Wency Chen
Wency Chen is a reporter KrASIA based in Beijing, covering tech innovations in&beyond the Greater China Area. Previously, she studied at Columbia Journalism School and reported on art exhibits, New York public school systems, LGBTQ+ rights, and Asian immigrants. She is also an enthusiastic reader, a diehard fan of indie rock and spicy hot pot, as well as a to-be filmmaker (Let’s see).

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