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Huawei reportedly launching its own Google Maps replacement in October

Published Aug 15th, 2019 6:35PM EDT
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Image: Photo by Steve Meddle/Shutterstock

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Huawei’s slow untethering of itself from a reliance on Google, and specifically on Google’s Android mobile operating system, is sort of underway now — “sort of” being the key phrase since it’s still not clear if Huawei will stay cut off from Google indefinitely. But that’s also why the company has gone ahead and worked up a homegrown OS that it says it can bring to its handsets eventually, if needed, as a replacement for Android.Meanwhile, after having finally unveiled that OS in recent days, Huawei is apparently about to take another step forward in its great decoupling from Google. Next up is a reveal supposedly coming in October of Huawei’s potential alternative to Google Maps, called Map Kit.

This news comes from the English-language, state-run newspaper China Daily, which notes that Map Kit isn’t meant to be used by consumers but is instead a solution for software developers to build applications based on Huawei’s mapping technology.

Yandex, the so-called Google of Russia, as well as travel website Booking Holdings, are said to be among the companies teaming up with Huawei to use Map Kit, which will reportedly be available in multiple countries and some 40 languages. Zhang Pingan, president of cloud services at Huawei’s consumer business group, told China Daily that among the features map kit will offer are real-time traffic conditions and “a highly sophisticated navigation system” that can spot a car changing lanes, as well as support for augmented reality mapping.

One of the immediate needs that became clear when Huawei finally revealed its HarmonyOS last week is that it needs a correspondingly robust ecosystem of mobile applications for the OS to have any chance of taking hold at all. What Huawei is apparently planning with its Map Kit seems to be a way of addressing that — by providing a framework for software developers to tap into Huawei’s mapping capabilities to build all manner of products.

For now, of course, this shouldn’t be seen as some kind of move by Huawei to try and dethrone the pervasiveness of Google Maps. The company line out of Huawei is also, still, that it wants to keep working with Google. Map Kit would seem to be another backup tool in its assortment of multiple Plan B options should the company have to finally, officially, figure out a permanent post-Google future.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.