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trade war between China and the US, Huawei building its own mapping tech, but can it beat Google Maps?

Amidst a messy trade war between China and the US, telecom manufacturer Huawei has found itself in a tricky spot. US’ trade restrictions have forceed the company to scramble to build its operating system and change its supply chain to reduce reliance on US-made tech. The US government did provide interim relief, by giving Huawei a license that allows US tech companies to continue to work with Huawei, but that expires on 19 August.

Which means Huawei might have to come up with everything its customers have come to expect as standard features—be it video, cloud sharing or even geolocation platforms.

According to the state-run news service China Daily, the telecom major is planning to come up with its mapping service called Map Kit. The service, which is currently not for public use, will be launched in October this year. It is being designed to encourage software developers to come up with applications based on its mapping capabilities.

The report says that the Map Kit will be connected to local mapping services and covers 150 countries and regions.

Ironically, the company has partnered with an American travel aggregator website Booking Holdings for the service.

“Huawei Map Kit will be available in 40 languages. It will offer real-time traffic conditions and a highly sophisticated navigation system which can recognize a car changing lanes. It will also support augmented-reality mapping,” Huawei consumer business group’s president of cloud services Zhang Pingan told China Daily.

Cracking this territory is no easy task—we have seen companies like Apple fail at this. Google is perhaps the only company who has got it down, with Maps that was launched in 2005. It went on to buy Waze for nearly a billion dollars in 2013 to better its network.

However, one place where Google hasn’t succeeded is Huawei’s home—China.

China requires companies to obtain special authorization from the administrative department for surveying and mapping under the State Council and securing this is incredibly difficult for a foreign company.

This is the reason why Google Maps can never show the map of any Chinese city properly—everything is just a little bit offset when you superimpose the street view and the satellite view.

Huawei might have a massive home-field advantage with its mapping service, but globally it has the challenge of accurately displaying thousands of miles in 150 countries and 40 different languages.

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