Thursday, July 9, 2020

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Huawei Signs contract with TomTom for an alternative to Google Maps

Chinese tech giant Huawei is partnering with Dutch digital mapping service TomTom to get maps on its smartphones, says Reuters. A spokesman for TomTom told Reuters the agreement ended “some time ago,” but it became public late last week.

Although TomTom retains self-branded apps on iOS and Android, Reuters explains Huawei building its apps with TomTom’s maps, traffic information, and navigation tools to create its own devices. TomTom previously offered data for Apple Maps— it was part of a shambolic patchwork of data providers at launch. Still, Apple continued to use its services after the software was revised.

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Previous reports said that Huawei is developing a full-fledged mapping system known as “Map Kit.” That software would be intended for app developers and could use data from Russian tech giant Yandex and Huawei’s own “telecom base stations.” The TomTom deal could indicate that Huawei is at temporarily backing off the Map Kit, or that it is merely continuing to work on the tech and needs a short-term solution.

Like many other Android phone companies, so far, Huawei has relied on Google Maps. But last year, the Trump administration-imposed sanctions on the Huawei, threatening its ties with American tech giants like Google. For now, Huawei only uses Android, but that deal’s future is “unclear,” and Huawei is developing its operating system called HarmonyOS.

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The TomTom agreement further reduces its reliance on Google — even though mapping apps may notoriously be challenging to get right, so Huawei is not yet in the clear.

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