An app you’ve probably never heard of is the most important social network in China – What is WeChat?

You may have never heard of WeChat, but it’s the most important app in China right now.

WeChat users can do just about anything, including play games, send money to people, make video calls, order food, read the news, book a doctor appointment, and more. It’s basically China’s version of Facebook.

“WeChat’s reach and influence is unrivaled in China’s online space,” said research firm China Skinny. “It touches everything from consumers communicating with their nearest and dearest, to sharing their most special moments, to buying everything from cinema tickets to taxi rides.”

WeChat had 600 million monthly active users in August 2015, and only 100 million of them were outside of China.

In Chinese, the app’s name is “Weixin,” which means “micro message.”

A multi-billion dollar company called Tencent launched WeChat four years ago as a way to message people over an internet connection.

A multi-billion dollar company called Tencent launched WeChat four years ago as a way to message people over an internet connection.

WeChat promotes a bit of spontaneity with a feature called Shake. If people have it enabled, they can shake their phones and message other random WeChat users who shook their phone at the same time.

A friend radar shows random people on WeChat near your physical location, along with their profile pictures (location access has to be granted for the app on your phone).

Another interesting feature called Drift Bottle lets you create a message (it can be a short audio clip) and virtually send it out to sea for any WeChat user to see. After your message is viewed, the viewer can respond and start a dialogue.

People can use it to pay their utility bills and schedule doctor appointments.

Tencent announced a partnership with Shanghai Fufeitong Information Technology, “a company that enables residents to pay utility bills online,” last August.

For doctor appointments, “patients can view information about specialist doctors, make an appointment and even monitor where they are in the queue,” according to Fortune. “The ability for patients to pre-pay their registration fee and medicine costs through the app (if they have connected their bankcard to WeChat) further accelerates the usual cumbersome experience.”

 

Celebrities use WeChat to directly communicate with fans, and some even charge for the most loyal fans to have exclusive access to what they share.

Celebrities from all over the world, including American performers like Selena Gomez and Johnny Galecki from “The Big Bang Theory,” post updates from their official WeChat accounts.

Some, like the Chinese actor Chen Kun, have even experimented with charging fans access to exclusive content, like photos and behind the scenes video.

Text: Tech Insider by Alex Heath  03-11-2015

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