Here’s my take on WeChat, an app currently standing strong in the App Store.
WeChat — as you could probably guess by the name — is a chatting application that helps you connect with your friends. You can chat with your friends and also make new ones instantly using its unique “Shake” feature.
Developed by Tencent, the third largest Internet company, WeChat app has a slew of features which sets it apart from the rest of the chatting apps. Right now, WeChat is ranked as the no.1 social app in the iOS Store across 16 countries and has over 200 million registered users worldwide.
As the app was first launched by Tencent in China, WeChat has a huge chuck of Chinese users.
Naturally, after learning about WeChat and what it does, the first question that crossed my mind was, why would I use this app over other mobile messaging app?
We already have WhatsApp, a well-known messaging client for sending and receiving text messages for free. Viber is yet another app that supports text messaging and audio calling over WiFi, and there are certainly many other apps out there to chat with your buddies right from your phone. Add WeChat to your collection as well.
In fact, as I tweeted a couple of days ago, liquify the powerful features of some of the popular apps and what comes out of them is a concrete app called WeChat. The sleek interface is combined with a host of interesting features that will keep the users glued to the app.
Once you have downloaded WeChat app on your phone, you can either sign up using your cell phone number or use Facebook to login. Similar to other messenger apps out there, you can always add your friends from the address book to start chatting.
Chat all day long: As long as you have a network around you (preferably WiFi), you can chat with your friends all day long. You can also invite your friends for a group chat — you can add up to 40 people while group messaging.
Make international video and audio calls: After you have added a person to WeChat, make a video call (if your smartphone has a front camera) or simply start an audio call. You can also send text and voice messages to your friends. Note: You won’t be able to call their phone numbers.
Shake to find new friends: WeChat is also a social networking app, which means you can add new friends by shaking your smartphone — that’s right!
Shake the smartphone real good, and if someone else is jiggling their device at the same time, their name will pop up on your smartphone. The application uses your current location to find new friends.
Plugins, the best part: There are a couple of plugins pre-installed with WeChat (which is why the app is sized at 30MB), and you can always add more. A new plugin called Moments lets you create a Facebook-like timeline on WeChat. There’s also a Video Call plugin which can be enabled or disabled at any time.
Drift Bottle is another interesting plugin that puts across your message to the whole world. Here, you will write a message which is squeezed into a bottle and that bottle is tossed into an ocean. Anyone using WeChat will use the “Pick up” button and read or reply to your message.
Take pictures and add effects: Whenever you are in the middle of your chat, you can always hit the “+” button to capture photos from your camera (or use photos from your library), add Instagram-like effects to these photos and send them to your friends.
WeChat app is absolutely free. The company makes revenue by inviting brands to use the WeChat platform (they will receive a special “verified” badge), which means users like you and me can use WeChat without any obstructive advertisement.
Many cross-platform chatting apps support iPhones and Androids. But WeChat supports Nokia (Symbian-based) phones, along with support for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7.
In a nutshell, WeChat app lets you send text messages, make video and audio calls, kick off a group messaging chat with your friends, and post a voice message. Finding new and interesting people around you was never this easy. As the app supports WiFi / 3G / 4G network, it is quite clear that you will not be charged by your network carrier for sending and receiving data.
Last month also saw the launch of the updated version of WeChat app which invited support for group voice messaging and audio / video calling.
Note: You will not be able to add your Gmail, Facebook or Yahoo! messenger friends to WeChat. Also, you will be able to connect with your friends only if they have this application installed — that’s a deal breaker to some of us, but still, given the price of the app and the slew of features the company has managed to add into it, I’d rate the app 3.5/5.