Last week Google fans enjoyed news of a possible resurrection. The company announced the imminent launch of a ‘China-friendly’ Play Store, almost four years after it was first ejected from the country over clashes with the Chinese government. It’s good news for the U.S. giant, which continues to seek out inroads to China’s 1.4 billion customers.

However four years is a long time in the world of tech, and several Chinese innovations have leapt at the opportunity to monetize the gaping market gaps left by Google. One company to do that very well is Chumen Wenwen, who specialize in developing China-specific Android software for smartwatches.

One of the core global features in Android smartwatches is their voice search engine ‘Google Now’. It’s the primary navigation feature, and sadly for China consumers, it’s a service that is prohibited in China. It’s absence has compromised the development of Android-based watches in China, weakening them against the sought-after offerings from Apple.

Beijing-based Mobvoi’s Chumen Wenwen has stepped in to become the Google Now of China, sealing a partnership with Google in March this year. They’ve now launched their own voice search software in partnership with Lenovo’s new Moto 360 II smartwatch.

Screenshot 2015-09-09 at 08.49.35

Before their collaboration with Google, Mobvoi had already been developing voice search engine technology since 2012 and had implemented the engine to its own Android Wear-like system, Ticwear, in late 2014 which then became popular among Chinese smartwatch users who can’t enjoy the full functionality of the stock Android Wear.

Three months ago, Mobvoi released its own smart watch Ticwatch co-designed by Frog Design, designer of the Apple IIc and some Macintosh series. Mobvoi’s co-founders are also former Google employees, which could have helped the partnership develop.

Image Credit: Lenovo

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