After taking it away in 2010, Google is once again offering its Maps service to consumers in China, though with feature limitations thanks to a big partnership the company has notched.
The Nikkei Asian Review reports that Alibaba-owned AutoNavi is providing the navigation feature for the Google Maps website and iOS app in China. Both apps also seem to source similar data, implying that the US search engine behemoth made some deals in order to tailor its product for approval by the Chinese government.
Beijing is looking to improve the country’s standing on artificial intelligence development and wants domestic players to take a leading role. Partnerships with Google could be seen as a milestone or a means to the reputation the government is looking to attain.
Last year, Google Translate came back to Chinese smartphones. Google also put money into Chushou, a games live-streaming platform for mobile viewers back in 2015. There have also been hints about the return of Google Play Services through potential partnerships with companies like NetEase.
But Google continues to balance the need to promote freedom of information through the internet for its own revenue interests with the fact that it has to deal with such a prohibitive regime to get through to the second-largest economy in the world.