11/10/2020

Chinese phone maker Huawei will work with Dutch mapping company TomTom to make smartphone apps that could compete with Google Maps, following US sanctions last year.

Another step away from the stock Android ecosystem
Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge
Chinese phone maker Huawei will work with Dutch digital mapping company TomTom to put maps on its phones, Reuters reports. A TomTom spokesperson told Reuters that the deal closed some time ago, but it became public late last week.
While TomTom maintains self-branded apps on iOS and Android, Reuters describes Huawei building its own apps with TomToms maps, traffic information, and navigation tools. TomTom has previously provided data for Apple Maps it was part of a shambolic patchwork of data providers at launch, but Apple reportedly kept using its services after overhauling the app as well.
Previous reports have said Huawei is building a full-fledged mapping system known as Map Kit. That software would be meant for app developers and could use data from Russian tech giant Yandex and Huaweis own telecom base stations. The TomTom deal could signal that Huawei is at least temporarily backing off Map Kit, or that its simply still working on the tech and needs a short-term solution.
Like many Android phone makers, Huawei has so far relied on Google Maps. But the Trump administration placed sanctions on the company last year, threatening its ties to American tech companies like Google. Huawei is still using Android for now, but the future of that deal is unclear, and Huawei is building its own operating system called HarmonyOS. The TomTom deal further reduces its dependance on Google although mapping apps can be notoriously tough to get right, so Huawei isnt in the clear yet.