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An alternative to Google Maps in the works?

A Huawei phone running Google Maps.

Google Maps is the dominant mapping service around right now, but it’s now emerged that Huawei is working on its own maps service.

According to the state-owned China Daily outlet, Huawei’s new mapping service is called Map Kit and is “not directly for consumer use.” Instead, it’s positioned as a tool for developers, allowing them to harness its capabilities.

Huawei Map Kit will reportedly offer real-time traffic conditions, lane change recognition, and augmented reality features. The service is also said to be available in 40 languages and tipped to launch in October.

A source told the outlet that Russian web giant Yandex and travel aggregator firm Booking Holdings (Booking.com, Kayak) have teamed up with Huawei for the service.

An alternative to Google Maps

Huawei’s move comes after it introduced its new, HarmonyOS platform last week. The platform is meant to be a plan B in the event that it’s unable to use Android due to the U.S. trade ban.

But Huawei Map Kit is undoubtedly tied to the trade ban too, as Huawei could be barred from using Google apps on new Android phones in the event of a more permanent ban. The firm would also encounter difficulties in using Google services on a HarmonyOS device, so an in-house solution seems like a sensible decision.

Map Kit would also be a substitute for any third-party HarmonyOS apps reliant on mapping data (e.g. WhatsApp), allowing developers to swap out Google Maps data for the manufacturer’s data.

Telecom industry executive Xiang Ligang told the China Daily that Huawei could bolster its mapping efforts with its existing infrastructure. After all, the firm has base stations in roughly 160 markets, and it could theoretically use this tech to improve mapping accuracy.

Map Kit wouldn’t be the only Google Maps alternative around though, as we’ve also got Bing Maps, HERE WeGo, and Apple Maps. What do you make of Huawei’s move though? Give us your thoughts in the comments!

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