Google has reportedly confirmed that China’s Maps platform hasn’t been changed following reports that Google Maps had finally come back to the region. According to Google spokesperson Taj Meadows, Maps has been available to Chinese users for years via the desktop platform, otherwise known as the Google Maps website that you would visit from an internet browser. Google also clarified that there is no available application for Maps on the Android or iOS platforms in the country while stating that earlier reports of a Maps app being reintroduced within China were not true.
The earlier report seems to have stated that some users in China were able to find a Maps application but weren’t able to use it for things like navigation, while Google says that only the browser version has been accessible. A Maps app in China would be big news if it were true, due to Google having some of its services, like Search and YouTube, blocked in the country, and although Maps on desktop is available, having Maps on Android and iOS in China would allow Google to tap into a huge market of users in a region where smartphone use is relatively high as China is the world’s largest smartphone market.
Google originally pulled Maps along Search, YouTube, and other services it offers in many other countries around the world from China back in 2010, and although Google has made some attempts to reenter the Chinese market it has yet to do so with most of what is still currently blocked from users. Maps, which is one of Google's most popular and primary apps for Android in the U.S. and other regions, has received quite a few updates over the past few months to make it a more usable application with functionality that goes beyond directions and navigation features. Such as the "get off the bus" notifications that were added to the app in the middle of December 2017. Google has also spent plenty of time upgrading the usability for local guides with the capability to add videos for places they've visited. Since China is such a large market for smartphone users and Maps is one of Google's largest apps in terms of popularity, the company is likely to make it known officially when and if it offers a Maps mobile app to Chinese users in the future.