Over the past year, Google has been slowly returning to China via partnerships, investments, and apps. The latest is not a standalone application, but rather a drawing mini game for WeChat where machine learning plays a major role.

Similar to Facebook Messenger, WeChat houses a lot of third-party functionality and services through mini apps. As one of China’s most popular app stores with nearly a billion users, parent company Tencent also has notable footprints in payments, gaming and livestreaming.

Google has now built one that is similar to its AI-powered Quick Draw game that it launched in 2016. Users are tasked with drawing an object that a neural network tries to recognize.

The name of the WeChat app roughly translates to “Guessing Little Songs” and gives users 20 seconds to doodle an assigned everyday item, like a dog, shoes, or watch. The AI then tries to guess the object, with users moving on to the next round if Google correctly identifies it.

The neural networking behind this game is powered by a dataset of 50 million hand-drawn sketches, and meant to showcase Google AI’s advances in computer vision.

A social aspect allows you to invite friends and family to see who can keep up the longest matching streak. Other features increasing sharing interesting sketches and saving drawings. The app can be installed via the below QR code.

Earlier this year, Google and Tencent signed a cross-licensing deal to share parents and collaborate on future tech development. More recently Google announced an e-commerce deal with JD.com as a rumored means to sell smart speakers and other hardware in China. Meanwhile, consumer focussed efforts include Wear OS powered by local services and apps like Files Go and ARCore.

As evidenced by today’s mini game, Google AI is also trying to stake a footprint by offering its TensorFlow machine learning library and tools to developers. Last year, it notably opened a Google AI China Center in Beijing.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com