UPDATE 1/16/2018: Google Spokesperson Denies China Specific Maps for Android
Shortly after reports indicated that Google Maps is making a comeback in China, Google released a statement to deny that it has launched a new version of Maps for China. “There have been no changes to Google Maps in China. Maps has been accessible on desktop for years, but does not have an official presence in Android or iOS app stores in China,” a spokesperson said.
Original Article: 1/15/2017
The very public fallout between the Chinese government and Google, back in 2010, marked the search engine's exit from the Chinese market. Several core Google services such as YouTube and Google Search are still unavailable in the country, with no indication of a comeback, despite the popularity of Android-based devices in the Chinese smartphone market. Google began offering a translation app for Chinese smartphones in March 2017, and it paved the way for more Google services to be available in China.
Google Maps Back in China, but There's a Catch
Google Maps is arguably one of the most used Google services, and it is all set to make a comeback in China after Google announced a China-specific version of the service. However, when users launch the app and attempt to use its navigation features, they are automatically transferred to an app from AutoNavi, a mapping company owned by Alibaba.
Some users reported that they appear to be drawing on similar data, which suggests that Google has partnered with AutoNavi and Alibaba to obtain map data for its return to China. A full-scale rollout will take some time, given the size of the country and the time required to map the geography in its entirety. However, it is a step in the right direction, and we can hopefully see a fully functional version of Google Maps in China within the next year or so.
Google also led a significant investment in Chushou, a video streaming platform where users can live-stream games played on their mobile phones. About 90 million users have signed up for it so far.
Future Partnership Between the Chinese Government and Google Very Likely
The Chinese government, like everyone else, is eager to develop artificial intelligence technologies, which Google has in abundance. The two sides seem to have agreed to bury the hatchet when it comes to Google's search and video-sharing sites like YouTube. Instead, additional focus will be put on the development of better AI.
Google announced in December that it would open the Google AI China Center for AI-centric research. Chinese media report Google has leased a Beijing office with space for more than 300 employees. Google is expected to launch basic research there soon, which could eventually expand into automated driving research for the Chinese government. The Chinese marketplace is slowly opening up to international players, and we hope that the trend continues.
News Source: Android Authority