Google now has two apps in China, but search remains off limits
Google is bringing a second app to China as it looks to grow its presence in a huge market where most of its services are blocked.
The company said in a blog post Thursday that it has launched its file management tool, Files Go, in four Chinese app stores. The app was released in the United States in December.
Many of Google’s best-known services — such as search, Gmail, YouTube and Maps — are banned or widely inaccessible in China, the world’s largest smartphone market. But Files Go is unlikely to upset the country’s censors — it suggests files to delete, organizes images, videos and documents, and lets users share files offline.
Google effectively left China in 2010, but the country’s hundreds of millions of internet users make it too large a market to ignore. The company has been hunting for ways to expand there in recent years.
It released its language translation app in China a year ago. The company said the number of users of Google Translate in China grew 400% in the first five months. It declined to give the current number of users.
Google faces challenges getting more services into the country, including stricter censorship regulations and increased scrutiny of foreign tech companies.
The company’s own app store, Google Play, remains blocked in China, which means that for Android phone users, Files Go and Google Translate are only available on third-party app stores, like the ones run by Chinese smartphone makers Huawei and Xiaomi.
Google is also setting up an artificial intelligence research center in Beijing, the company’s first in Asia. The move will help China pursue its aim to become a global leader in AI.