Huawei to unveil its own mapping service to challenge Google Maps


Shortly after launching its own operating system, HarmonyOS, to replace Google’s Android, Chinese tech giant Huawei vowed to take on Google Maps, with plans to unveil a domestically-created alternative.

The move is aimed to cope with Washington’s crackdown on the company amid the simmering trade war between the US and China. In case the company loses access to Google Maps due to US blacklisting, Huawei can launch its own mapping services as early as October, state-owned outlet China Daily reports.

However, the tool, called Map Kit, is not directly intended for consumer use, but is designed to encourage developers to create software based on its mapping capabilities. Russian internet major and mapping service provider Yandex, sometimes called the ‘Russian Google’, as well as US travel aggregator website, are among the software companies that are partnering with Huawei on the mapping service, according to China Daily.

Map Kit will support 40 languages at launch and will use Huawei’s advantage in the telecom sector to provide better services. It will use the telecom base stations in over 160 countries and regions. This will allow the service to access real-time traffic flows and a highly sophisticated navigation system which can even recognize a car changing lanes.

The news comes shortly after the Chinese tech giant officially revealed its own operating system called HarmonyOS, which can operate on different devices, including mobile phones. Huawei plans to invest $1 billion to encourage software developers to design apps for HarmonyOS. It has also promised that app developers will enjoy more profits than they make with US tech heavyweights Apple and Google, as it will reduce its cut from transactions on the platform.

The US placed Huawei on its ‘Entity List’ in May, effectively barring American tech companies from dealing with the Chinese firm. While the ban on government contracts with Huawei is already in force, Google has received a 90-day license enabling it to provide software updates to Android-powered handsets and maintain “continued operation of existing networks and equipment.”

However, the extension is set to expire next week, leaving the Chinese firm without the Android license. The company could lose access to widely used Google apps such as Maps, Docs, and Play Store, among others.