Contrary to reports about Google setting up a China-specific version of its Google Maps, the company said that it has not made any changes to its mapping service or re-launching the app in the country.
Google along with a lot of other technology companies have been trying to penetrate the heavily censored Chinese market. Google already has some of its services blocked in the country, including the main search engine and YouTube. In order to enter the Chinese market, companies are required to comply with the government’s censorship guidelines, and release a tweaked version of their existing services or issue a China-specific version.
Japan’s Nikkei reported on similar lines that Google was setting up a China-specific version of the Google Maps website for the first time in eight years and introduced an app for iPhones in China for the first time.
However, Google denied the claims and stated that the browser has been available in the country for many years and the app is not on offer in the country.
In a statement to Reuters, Google spokesman Taj Meadows said, “There have been no changes to Google Maps in China. Maps have been accessible on the desktop for years, but does not have an official presence in Android or iOS app stores in China.”
Nikkei report also claimed that users in China could find the Google Maps app, but if they tried to use features such as navigation, they were redirected to an app from AutoNavi, which is a mapping service owned by China’s Alibaba Group Holding.
It is worth mentioning that owing to the censorship in China, the full version of Google Maps app has not been available in the country since Google pulled out many of its services in 2010. Nonetheless, the company continues to woo the market.
Earlier this month, Google joined an investment in Chinese live-stream mobile game platform Chushou. The company also launched an AI lab in December and hosted a Go match between its AI project Alpha Go and Chinese Go champion Ke Jie as part of its efforts to stay relevant in the market.