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China: Yuan Hits High Against Greenback; Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Maps Better Than Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the Mainland

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Meanwhile, foreign banks reported strong profits in China for 2011.

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): With Apple suffering an embarrassing public relations nightmare over its error-strewn Maps app, the company will be glad to learn that its Maps app might be better than Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) in China. Anthony Drendel, a programmer based in the mainland, ran a side-by-side comparison of iOS 6 Maps and Google's Maps apps and found the former to be "a huge improvement" over the latter.

Both Apple and Google use mapping data from Chinese company AutoNavi (NASDAQ:AMAP), but Drendel points out that Apple Maps provides greater detail and accuracy, particularly when one steps out of big cities. He writes:

In my experience, the new version of Maps zooms in much further, shows more points of interest, clearly labels banks and cellphone shops (China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom), and gives the locations of ATMs and public restrooms (my original iPad running iOS 5 with Google-powered Maps doesn't show either of those things).

The killer feature, though, is that iOS 6 Maps shows both English names and Chinese characters for everything, whereas Google-powered Maps only shows the English translation (on iOS devices whose language is English). This is killer. English translations are almost useless in China because-guess what-Chinese people don't speak English. For those of us who can read (at least some) Chinese, this feature is even more important. We can ask for places by name instead of just pointing at its location on a map.

Foreign banks: Reversing mediocre results form recent years, foreign banks operating in China turned in impressive profits in 2011, according to a report from KPMG, which found that the China operations of 33 foreign banks took in more than twice as much in net profits in 2011 compared to a year ago.

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