Google is planning on reintroducing its Play Services to China sometime this year, according to Chen Xudong, head of Lenovo’s smartphone division. His comments, reported by Sina Tech (via 9to5Mac), echo a report from Reuters late last year.
Google Play Services, a required component for Google apps such as the Play Store, Google Maps, and Google Now on Android devices, are among the majority of Google services and products absent from the Chinese market, following the company’s strategic decision to pull out of the country in January 2010. At the time, Google cited an unwillingness to abide by the government-mandated restrictions requiring content providers to adhere to its censorship policies.
In the intervening years, China has grown into a sprawling mobile market, and while Android is the most popular platform among consumers, manufacturers generally power their handsets with proprietary builds of the operating system that lack Google’s applications. Google has recently engaged in partnerships with several of the largest Chinese OEMs, choosing Huawei to build last year’s Nexus 6P and teaming up with Lenovo for a phone that incorporates its Project Tango augmented reality capabilities.
Google took an introductory step towards this return in late 2014, when it brought Android merchant support to China, which enabled Chinese developers to sell apps in other countries’ Play Stores.
Xudong did not specify exactly when Play Services would be reintroduced, nor did the prior Reuters article, although whenever the rollout does occur, it is expected to be done in compliance with the self-censoring regulations.