Alphabet Inc.’s Google denied media reports that the technology giant was re-launching its mapping platform in China, after eight years of the service being severely restricted.
The world’s largest internet search engine said “there have been no changes to Google Maps in China. Maps [browser] has been accessible on desktop for years, but does not have an official presence in Android or iOS app stores in China,” Google spokesman Taj Meadows told Reuters.
Japan’s Nikkei business daily earlier reported that Google had set up a China-specific version of the Google Maps website, and introduced a map application for Chinese iPhones.
According to the Nikkei report, users found that applications that offer maps based on Google data have become accessible in recent days. However, if they try to use the navigation function, they are redirected to a Chinese map application run by Alibaba’s AutoNavi.
Reuters said a Chinese version of Google Maps was accessible on Tuesday on mobile and desktop browsers with certain functions available, but the Google Maps app cannot be found in Chinese app stores.
Domestic access to Google’s main search platform and other services, including its popular video platform YouTube, has been restricted since 2010 after the tech giant refused to self-censor its search results.
In March 2017, Google made a low-key relaunch of its Translate mobile apps in China, which previously offered a web-based version, giving rise to speculation that the US company would reintroduce its service in the country.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 17
Translation by Ben Ng
[Chinese version 中文版]
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