As smartphones have come to dominate the mobile industry, we’ve seen a rise in new social communication applications in the last few years. Popular apps like WhatsApp, Line, Viber, Keek, and KakaoTalk have become the preferred platforms for instant messaging, video chatting, or calling as most charge minimal or no fees to communicate internationally. However, if there’s one particular app that stands out amongst its competitors, it’s WeChat.
Originally developed by Chinese company TenCent and released in 2011, WeChat has attracted over one billion registered accounts worldwide and almost 700 million active users as of this fall. How has it gained this much momentum in such a short period of time? WeChat arguably has a more impressive and robust set of features than any other mobile social app. In addition to the typical phone calling, video chatting, and instant messaging functions, it has incorporated a handful of useful social and business tools, making it an all-in-one application for anyone. Moreover, TenCent has adapted the app for eighteen different languages, making it accessible to international users unlike its Chinese competitor, Weibo.
Some of the fun social features on WeChat include group chatting, emojis, stickers, walkie-talkie voice messaging, mobile games, and real-time location sharing. It has also included a photo feature similar to Instagram, where users can post to their own profiles and get comments or likes from their contacts. There are also approximately eight million public media, retail, and celebrity accounts registered on WeChat that users may follow for news and entertainment updates, similar to Twitter.
But these are just the basics - there are also amazingly innovative business features incorporated. For example, WeChat Pay allows for money transfers between friends or in-store payment at participating retail shops. In addition to Venmo and PayPal-like features, it also has a built-in bill-splitting feature which eases the process of friend-to-friend payments. WeChat has also partnered with several startups in China to offer food ordering and delivery via the app, taxi cab hailing and payment, barcode scanning for product price checks, and search engines for nearby discount deals.
Essentially, WeChat has become much more than a simple communication medium - it encompasses all useful features that mobile users typically desire. Rather than downloading multiple applications such as Skype, Venmo, Facebook Messenger, and Uber, we now have a platform that efficiently ties all the features into one. It’s not only great for socializing, but also is the greatest mobile tool for productive personal and business matters. If you haven’t already downloaded the app, don’t miss out!