News recently surfaced that a Google Maps version optimized for China launched after eight years of absence, but Google is denying such claims.
The Chinese government strictly monitors 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 availability in China for many years and nothing has changed, despite a recent report from Nikkei claiming otherwise.
Google Maps In China
Back in 2010, Google had to pull its Maps app and other services from China because its government refused to censor its search results. The company has not launched another Maps app in the country since, and it doesn't seem like it will launch one anytime soon.
Japanese publication Nikkei reported that for the first time in eight years, a new Google Maps app launched in China on iOS, with specific optimizations for the Chinese market. The news fueled excitement, but it's not the case.
Google says that it did not launch a China-optimized version of Maps, and a mobile app is still not available in the market. Google Maps is accessible in China from desktop browsers, but that's just it.
No Chinese Google Maps App
The Nikkei report, which has since disappeared, claimed that an iOS Maps app was up and running in China, but when users tried to access various features such as navigation, the app automatically redirected them to another app from mapping company AutoNavi, which is owned by Chinese firm Alibaba Group Holding.
This led to a speculation that Google teamed up with Alibaba's AutoNavi to integrate map data to Google Maps. Considering that China restricts access to its geographical data, the theory was not too far-fetched. AutoNavi has not offered any comments, but Google stepped up to clear the air.
Google denies having any official Maps app available in China, and the fact that Nikkei has since removed its report indicates that the iOS Maps app it spotted might have been fake. Chinese app stores show no signs of a Google Maps app at all, be it official or not.
"There have been no changes to Google Maps in China. Maps 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 in an emailed statement.
In conclusion, although China is the world's top smartphone market, Google still has a limited presence and the Nikkei report was not accurate. No Google Maps app is available in China.