News recently appeared that a Google Maps version improved for China released after eight years of absence, but Google is denying such statements.
The China government totally watches the apps and services available in the country, and third-party companies such as Google and Facebook do not have much of a presence.
Google services have had limited accessibility in China for many years and nothing has changed, despite a recent report from Nikkei claiming otherwise.
According to Nikkei, Google was planning to release an improved form of Google Maps for iPhones in China. It was said to contain most of Maps’ major features, but with a few limitations compared to the Western version — it’d only work in China, for example, and any attempt to use routing would have rerouted users to Alibaba Group Holding’s AutoNavi mapping app.
Google Maps wouldn’t have been the first app Google’s released in the region since getting out of it eight decades ago — the internet search giant released Google Translate in the Chinese iTunes App Store in 2017. But Google Maps has broader appeal and remains one of the most-downloaded applications in the company’s profile.
Google’s made inroads in China in other ways, though. In Dec, it opened the Google AI China Center, setting up a China office with room for 300 workers. And last season, Google hosted a match of game Go between Alpha Go, its AI project, and Chinese Go champion Ke Jie. But the company’s been careful to toe the line — according to a representative for a Chinese internet company who talked to Nikkei, Google and the China govt decided last year to avoid talking about subjects such as Google’s search engine and YouTube, where arguments are likely. So while an inbound Maps app would be a significant step, at this point it wouldn’t be entirely incredible.