WeChat is a free cross-platform messaging app that is phenomenally popular in China. The international version of the app is known as WeChat while the Chinese version is called Weixin (meaning “micro message”). WeChat is now available in many widely spoken languages worldwide including English, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and Indonesian.
WeChat was released in January 2011 and as of May 2014 had 396 million monthly active users, of which around 25% were outside China. This compares to WhatsApp’s global user base of 465 million monthly active users and Viber’s 100 million monthly active users. Even though most of WeChat’s users are in China, last year it hired Lionel Messi as a spokesperson to promote the app worldwide.
What Platforms Does WeChat Work On:
WeChat works across the major mobile platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and Blackberry. WeChat apps are also available on Apple Mac computers and a web version for PC’s.
What Functionality Does WeChat Offer:
WeChat users can send free text messages (SMS), picture messages (MMS), voice messages, video messages, and make free voice calls and video calls. Group chat functionality, broadcast messages (sending voice messages to multiple users) and walkie talkie mode are also available. Other services include location sharing, contacts sharing, photo sharing, moments and games. Moments allow users to share photos with their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
WeChat offers paid for services including downloading stickers and downloading games with in-app game purchases. After three months of launching WeChat’s Game Center in 2013, it registered over 570 million downloads.
Comparison to Other Messaging Apps:
Other messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber offer similar core communications functionality including free text and picture messaging, voice and video messaging, group chat functionality, broadcast messages, location sharing and contacts sharing. However, WeChat offers free voice and video calls, moments and games which WhatsApp doesn’t. WhatsApp’s co-founder Jan Koum announced at Mobile World Congress in February 2014 that it would add voice functionality to WhatsApp in the near future. Viber does offer free voice calls but is currently working on adding video calling.
Why You Should Download It:
WeChat offers more functionality than Whats App and Viber and is free of charge. Few of your UK based friends probably use WeChat right now but the additional functionality makes it a worthwhile download.
Who Are The Developers Behind WeChat:
WeChat is owned by Tencent, a massive Chinese internet company founded in 1998. Tencent is the forth-largest Internet company in the world by revenues after Google, Amazon and Ebay. In terms of stock market capitalization, Tencent is roughly the size of Amazon, with only Google and Facebook being bigger. As of July 2014, Tencent had a stock market value of around US$ 150 billion.
Feedback From The giffgaff Community:
Would you be willing to try out the WeChat messaging app? Or are you happy with your existing messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber and BBM? If you download the app, please share your thoughts and opinions of the WeChat app below. Alternatively, if you have opinions on other messaging apps not mentioned in this blog, please share them as well.