Tencent is one of China’s largest and most used Internet portals. Its most successful Instant Messaging service, Tencent QQ, has more than 700 million registered users so far. However, another free application developed by the same company is quickly becoming popular as well. WeChat, literally meaning “tiny message” in Chinese, provides not only text communication services like other IMs, but also has multimedia features. The most frequently used feature is Voice Messaging. Simply press and hold the “Hold to Talk” button for the duration of your voice message, release your finger when you are done talking, the voice message will be sent to the other person. If you feel like typing, tap on the “T” sign beside the “Hold to Talk” bar and the keyboard will come out.
WeChat also has “Group Chat” which you can select contacts and add them to a group. Each person can choose to talk or to type or switch between the two at any time. The flexible and fun way of communication is what sets WeChat aside from many other IM or social networking apps. In addition to this main feature, WeChat also has “Shake” service which is similar to the “Bump.” You shake your phone to exchange information such as photos and contacts with your friends nearby. The “Look Around” feature will locate your current spot to see if anyone near you is using WeChat as well so you can talk to each other. Finally, it even has a “drift bottle” feature that lets you select “Pick” to collect a bottle drifting by in the virtual “sea.” You can read or listen to the message in the “bottle” and reply back to that person. Of course, you can also throw a drift bottle into the “sea.”
WeChat is available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Symbian platforms. And, good news for people outside China, the app’s language support now also includes English, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Thai. A recent article on Tech in Asia reported that since its international launch, WeChat has earned great success especially in Vietnam and Thailand. The article states that, “The Chinese internet multinational’s VP of international business Poshu Yeung told a gathering of tech journos in Bangkok this week that he estimates the app has about 200,000 to 300,000 users in Thailand alone, based on download figures.” Now we may wait and see if this app will gain some success in the United States and Europe as well.