The announcement comes as Huawei defends itself from the US government’s trade war on China, with US president Donald Trump delaying bans on contracts for the embattled telecoms company.
Chinese telecoms multinational Huawei has unveiled plans to launch a mapping service in October to rival Google Maps and reduce dependency on US technologies, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.
Huawei’s ‘Map Kit’ service is only currently open to developers for building software applications using its platform.
Zhang Pingan, Huawei’s consumer business group president of cloud services, said that over 50 percent of mobile applications use location-based services that demand mapping capabilities.
According to Mr Zhang, the new mapping service will offer real-time traffic conditions and implement navigation systems capable of recognising when cars are changing lanes, as well as offering augmented-reality mapping programmes.
Map Kit will be available in forty languages, Huawei has announced, and despite being a ‘latecomer’ to the mapping industry, the Chinese tech giant owns telecom base stations across 160 countries and regions, which it can use to implement the new service globally, Xiang Ligang, Director-General for the Information Consumption Alliance said.
The Chinese tech giant has also partnered with Russian tech heavyweight Yandex and US travel company Booking Holdings to build the mapping service, a source familiar with the matter told China Daily.
The news comes after Huawei launched its HarmonyOS operating system on Friday, which may replace Google’s Android should the US tech conglomerate and Microsoft further restrict access to crucial updates to Huawei devices. Huawei has also invested £1.2bn in a new research and development facility in Shanghai to develop its own processors and key components after US chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcomm and others halted sales of its components to China.
The US government also prohibited US federal agencies from purchasing products from Huawei, ZTE and numerous other Chinese tech firms in May, with the ban taking effect on Tuesday. But US president Donald Trump scaled back his trade war on China following his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka in June, with the former approving Huawei to sell components and spare parts not deemed a threat to national security. The US government has routinely accused Huawei of working with the Chinese government and installing backdoor spyware in its IT equipment, which Beijing and Huawei have sharply and repeatedly denied.