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...adding several new features to its Google.cn search engine, including some capabilities that are not available on Google.com.
That hasn't discouraged Google, which in recent months has steadily added new features to Google.cn, such as the ability to search Chinese Web sites using Pinyin, a romanization system for characters that allows Chinese words to be spelled out using the Roman alphabet. That capability, already available from Baidu, allows users to search using Chinese without having to switch from English to Chinese input systems.
In addition to allowing users to search for Pinyin, Google.cn now has an auto-complete compatibility, introduced in January, similar to the company's Google Suggest service. This feature suggests possible search terms on Google.cn when letters or characters are entered -- a feature that you won't find on Baidu or the main Google.com search engine.
Google Japan have a Suggest tool as well:
However it doesn't work with the same sort of input scheme (and it's not integrated into the main search). If you enter English letters you get English results for the most part. The Chinese tool looks more useful in that respect.
The Pinyin search sounds like a very helpful addition. That is something that would be nice to have in Japan as well.
We covered the addition of Google China maps [webmasterworld.com] a short while ago. That service still seems a bit sluggish to me.
It is good to see these new features, but I hope that they're going to be properly supported and maintained. Google does seem to be rushing some things out before they may be ready (maps).