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Is WeChat Yet another App or a Breakthrough?

As Dan of Disruptive Telephony explained in a blog post about how over the top (OTT) applications are getting popular, these apps are now using services by telecom service providers to in fact compete with them to drive away their revenues on minutes and texting. The free texting apps such as Kakao Talk and WhatsApp have already driven millions away from large telcos; the height is that telcos have started putting out their own OTT apps such as T-Mobile clearconnect for their users as well as users not on their network.

There is another smartphone application named WeChat, developed by Tencent Holding Company – world’s third largest Internet company. WeChat is now creating a lot of noise due to its sheer power of simplicity of user interface and unmatched service quality and unique interesting features. Well, there are also news of it making dissidents unhappy. However, we leave it to you to judge this app based on its merits and demerits that we will convey through this article.

What is new about WeChat App

WeChat is the first app that combines the ordinary features of free international calling and texting with uniquely interesting features of “Shake” and “Look Around”.

WeChat Shake feature: Shake feature lets you find people in the world who are shaking their phones right now. It might not sound that interesting when you are reading it but the mere thought of connecting with someone who was doing the same thing as you is pretty interesting. If we were to believe the data produced by the study of how many people use their phones on the John that is connecting to a stranger who was actually doing two things similar to what you were doing.

WeChat Look Around feature: WeChat look around feature takes your GPS coordinates (location information) and finds other WeChat users that are around you. As attractive as it sounds, there have been reports that people were robbed by using this app. However, you can only blame the app so much, as they say

people kill people not guns

You have to be smart about how you use technology, otherwise you will be in trouble pretty often. Remember that the app only enables you to find a stranger near you, it cannot filter people based on their motives.

Drift Bottle feature: Remember when the princess used to send a message sealed in a bottle through the sea and whoever (usually the protagonist of the story) picked it will go and save her? Drift bottle feature is similar. You can send a message and someone might eventually get it and come to connect with you. You will need to turn this feature by going to settings->Plugins and then turning Drift bottle feature on.

Web Grab: Found a good recipe online but don’t have a printer? with Web Grab you can send a web page to your phone so that you can use it later.

Video Calling: WeChat also has the ability to let you send video messages to your friends in real time. Although it is only available since version 4.2 so if you have an older version you might want to upgrade. Of course if the video does not work out very well, you can always fall back on the audio mode.

Web WeChat: Web WeChat feature lets you scan a QR code from your browser and then you can continue a web based chat. This comes handy if your battery is dying in the middle of a conversation, as then you can quickly log in using your browser. When we tried this feature the website returned an error so we do not know how quick it is.

How to Get WeChat App

WeChat App is available for multiple platforms for free. You can download it from the respective store for your phone if your phone uses one of the following platforms:

App Store for iOS platform (Apple devices)

Google Play store for Android phones

Marketplace for Windows (Windows 7.5 and later)

Ovi Store for Nokia Phones, both with Keyboard and touch

AppWorld for Blackberry 5.0 and 6.0 and above.



About Mukesh Agarwal

Mukesh Agarwal is a VoIP enthusiast and a passionate blogger. He speaks at VoIP conferences worldwide advocating the advancement of VoIP technology to convert this world into a global village.

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  1. WeChat, Whatsapp, Kik, gTalk, Viber, etc, etc, the problem with all of ’em is what it has always been, you have to be on the same network, you have to use the same app, to communicate with other people. What if email was like that? What if our phone system worked like that?

    I’d like to see the day when no matter what messenger you use you can talk with other people on different networks who are using different apps.

    • Fred,

      Excellent point. I hate to admit that it is strategic than any technical challenge, that these apps do not let others communicate with their own user base. If they opened up their platforms for others, it would only penetrate to even larger markets. There have been some cross platform experiments but they never became so popular. Moreover, what other developers would build on top of the APIs is simply amazing and the possibilities are endless. I wish these companies listen to readers like you and get a hint.

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