AutoNavi, the Chinese mapping company fully acquired by Alibaba, has decided to set aside the idea of building a Taobao marketplace based on maps and to refocus on business-facing solutions. Yu Yongfu, the new head of Alibaba’s location-based services (LBS) division, said at a recent event that AutoNavi had shifted focus to technical solution development from user-facing applications.

At Alibaba’s annual developer conference last month, AutoNavi unveiled Smart LBS, an initiative to enable mobile apps to embed Amap (AutoNavi’s digital map product) and other location-based features.

An HTML5 geolocation API has been released for third-party apps to customize the embedded map, by adding markers, directions or location-based search (see image below). It aims at web-based applications built on top of WeChat’s Public Account system or Alipay’s Service Window platform.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com