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Google Launches WeChat Mini-Program as it Continues to Test China Waters

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Google, whose email and search services are blocked on China’s mainland, continues to look at ways to maintain a presence in the country, eight years after they officially “withdrew” following disputes over censorship of search results.

After its Translate app made a comeback in China last year — with the help of MC Jin, no less — Google’s latest move has seen it unveil a sketching game via WeChat’s “mini-program” system.

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WATCH: Google Recruits MC Jin, Wades Back into China Waters

Mini-programs, or mini-apps, are WeChat-optimized versions of regular apps that sit within Tencent’s flagship platform, meaning users don’t need to bother with downloading full, separate versions from app stores.

Announced via Google’s Chinese-language blog and already up and running, the tech giant’s first WeChat mini-program and is kind of like an online version of Pictionary, whereby you can play in teams with your contacts to guess what the other side is drawing. You can also pit your wits against Google’s AI system.

The game itself isn’t exactly revolutionary, but the fact that Google is willing to engage with WeChat’s mini-program system is a significant development, especially as the company appears to be stepping up efforts to maintain some sort of foothold in China.

The new sketching game comes in the wake of Google’s patent partnership with Tencent earlier this year and its involvement with JD.com, which was announced last month. Back in March, Google also hosted a conference in Beijing on the back of opening an AI research lab in the capital.

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RADII Staff