Google Maps has gingerly returned to China after an eight year absence


The China-specific version of Google Maps is available via desktop browsers and as an iOS app (China doesn't have the Google Play Store, so there's no Android version), which both allow users to navigate within the country, although with some caveats. But users say they are transferred to AutoNavi when they try to use the navigation features of the app.

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.

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While the two apps differ in their design, some users report that they appear to be drawing on similar data.

"There have been no changes to Google Maps in China", said Taj Meadows, head of Google's policy communications in Asia Pacific, according to Nikkei. But the Chinese government and Google are still unlikely to agree on requirements for services like search and YouTube. For this reason, both the Chinese government and Google had chose to keep aside discussions and instead cooperate on Artificial intelligence development. Last month, Google announced the launch of its new Beijing AI research center. About 90 million users have signed up. The company is expected to launch basic research there soon, and could eventually expand into automated driving research as well. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is thought to have explored the prospect of expanding to China, where the social networking service is now blocked, in a meeting with Xi last October. Let's see if this will pave the way for better relations between China and the United States company.