WeChat

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WeChat
WeChat.png
Developer(s) Tencent Holdings
Initial release January 2011 (2011-01)
Stable release

iOS 5.3.1.16 (June 23, 2014; 5 months ago (2014-06-23)[1][2]q) [±]
iPad (February 21, 2014; 9 months ago (2014-02-21)[3]) [±]
Windows Phone 5.1.4.0 (June 13, 2014; 6 months ago (2014-06-13)[4]) [±]
Symbian V3 4.2 (February 4, 2013; 22 months ago (2013-02-04)[5]) [±]
Symbian V5 4.2 (January 17, 2013; 22 months ago (2013-01-17)[5]) [±]
BlackBerry OS 2.6 (July 30, 2013; 16 months ago (2013-07-30)[6]) [±]
BlackBerry 10 1.0.1.16 (July 30, 2013; 16 months ago (2013-07-30)[6]) [±]

OS X 1.0.0.5 (March 17, 2014; 9 months ago (2014-03-17)[7]) [±]
Operating system iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian, BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, OS X
Available in English, Chinese (Simplified & Traditional), Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Malay, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Russian, Hindi, Turkish
Type Instant Messaging Client
Licence Proprietary
Website www.wechat.com (International)
weixin.qq.com (China)

WeChat (Chinese: 微信; pinyin: Wēixìn; literally: "micro message") is a mobile text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent in China, first released in January 2011.[8] It is the largest standalone messaging app by monthly active users.[9]

The app is available on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Symbian phones, and there are also Web-based and OS X[10] clients but these require the user to have the app installed on a supported mobile phone for authentication.[11] As of August 2014, WeChat has 438 million active users; with 70 million outside of China.[12]

Users can register WeChat with Facebook account or sign up with phone number.[13] WeChat currently supports phone numbers of more than 100 countries to register. Registration cannot be done directly through Tencent QQ. But users can connect their WeChat account with Tencent QQ account after registering through phone number.[14]

WeChat provides text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, sharing of photographs and videos, and location sharing. It can exchange contacts with people nearby via Bluetooth, as well as providing various features for contacting people at random if desired (if these are open to it) and integration with social networking services such as those run by Facebook and Tencent QQ.[15] Photographs may also be embellished with filters and captions, and a machine translation service is available.

WeChat is being promoted in India via gaming site Ibibo, in which Tencent holds a stake.[16]

History[edit]

WeChat began as a project at Tencent Guangzhou Research and Project center in October 2010.[17] The original name of the app, "Weixin", was invented by Xiaolong Zhang, and named by Ma Huateng, Tencent CEO.[18]

In May 2011, WeChat had 4-5 million users,[18] and by the end of 2011, it had 50 million users.[19] WeChat had more than 100 million users by March 2012.[19]

In April 2012, Weixin re-branded as WeChat for the international market.[20]

In September 2012, WeChat had more than 200 million users according to Tencent CEO, Ma Huateng.[21] As of January 2013, it had 300 million.[22][23]

In April 2013, rumors online speculated that WeChat would charge a fee for the app. A poll showed that 90% of users strongly opposed this move.[24] WeChat currently is free to download and use.

In May 2013, it was revealed that Rainie Yang would be a product endorser for WeChat.[25] To promote the app in India, WeChat recruited Bollywood actors Varun Dhawan and Parineeti Chopra as brand ambassadors.[26]

In July 2013, Tencent announced WeChat has 70 million users outside China[27] and Lionel Messi became the latest product ambassador of WeChat.[28]

In July 2013, Tencent announced to test Games within WeChat.[29]

On 5 July 2013, Tencent announced WeChat 5.0 for iOS. The new version came with many new features.[30][31]

On 5 August 2013, WeChat 5.0 was launched with new features and functions including payment center, games center and sticker shop.[32]

In June 2014, WeChat closed 20 million accounts because they offered prostitution services.[33]

On 30 September 2014, WeChat 6.0 was launched with new features and functions include Sight capture and share. [34]

According to GlobalWebIndex, WeChat is the fifth most used smartphone app worldwide and in August 2013, following Google Maps, Facebook, Youtube and Google+. WeChat claimed it had 100 million registered international users which it is achieved in only 3 months from 50 million registered international users. It also claimed 300 million registered Chinese users.[35]

According to Xinhua, WeChat total users reached 600 millions users worldwide in October 2013.[36] In addition,approximately 30 per cent of the total WeChat are users abroad.[37]

Censorship[edit]

Global Censorship[edit]

Starting January 9, 2013 reports arose that Chinese language searches outside China were being keyword filtered and then blocked. This occurred both to China from foreign countries and from foreign countries to other foreign countries. WeChat already censors its communications within China. In this new international example of blocking, a message was displayed on users' screens reading “The message “南方周末” you sent contains restricted words. Please check it again.” The Chinese characters stand for a Guangzhou-based paper called Southern Weekly (or, alternatively, Southern Weekend). The next day Tencent released a statement addressing the issue saying “A small number of WeChat international users were not able to send certain messages due to a technical glitch this Thursday. Immediate actions have been taken to rectify it. We apologize for any inconvenience it has caused to our users. We will continue to improve the product features and technological support to provide better user experience.” WeChat has plans to build two different platforms to avoid this problem in the future; one for Chinese mainlanders and one for the rest of the world. The problem exists because WeChat's servers are currently all located in China and thus subject to its censorship rules.[38][39][40]

Restricting Sharing Websites in "Moments"[edit]

On Dec 12, 2014, WeChat announced that according to "related regulations," domains of the web pages that want to get shared in WeChat Moments need to get an ICP license by Dec 31, 2014 to avoid being restricted by WeChat. [41]

Security Concerns[edit]

The rise in the app’s popularity throughout the World has given politicians and dissidents concerns on the matter of security and privacy outside the realms of China. Voice messaging, a feature on WeChat, has caused users to fear that the service will allow the monitoring of users’ movements in real time by security officials.[42] WeChat as well contains the ability to access the text messages, contact books of its users and users’ location through the GPS feature.[42] Countries such as Taiwan, India, the United States, and China all fear that the app poses a threat to national security for various reasons.[42][43][44]

Taiwan[edit]

In October, when the app was launched in Taiwan, legislators were concerned that the potential exposure of private communications was a threat to national security.[42]

India[edit]

Researchers in India stated that the Chinese Internet Giant, Tencent, is a threat to national security based on the Chinese government’s ability to access chat logs, contact lists, messages, calls, and geographic locations. In June 2013, the Indian Intelligence Bureau flagged WeChat for security concerns. The Indian Intelligence Agency informed the National Security Advisor about WeChat and its messaging platform. The agency reported that the messaging platforms raised new cyber threats, focusing on India and accessing its data with the help of Tencent. Spokesperson of Tencent, Hu Chunnan, however stated that Tencent and the app WeChat follows and complies to all relevant local laws and regulations. India has debated whether or not they should ban We Chat for its possibility in collecting too much personal information and data from its users.[44][45][46]

United States[edit]

Western users voiced concerns on the lack of personal data protection and the safety of personal privacy issues, fearing that the Chinese Government will have too much access of its citizens’ information. Furthermore, US lawmakers fear that the telecommunications equipment sold by Huawei and ZTE, Chinese firms, lack overall security. Adam Segal, a Council on Foreign Relations cyber-security expert, stated that though an app may have been created in the US, it is not immune to cyber-attack.[42][43][47]

China[edit]

Users in China have as well expressed fear in the privacy issues of the app, WeChat. Human rights activist, Hu Jia was jailed for three years for sedition. He speculates that the guobao officials, or the internal security bureau, listened to his voicemail messages that were directed to his friends, repeating the words displayed within the voice mail messages to Hu Jia. Chinese authorities have further accused the app for its threat to individual safety. China Central Television (short CCTV), a state run broadcaster, featured a piece in which WeChat was described as an app that allows criminals an easy way in due to its location-reporting features. CCTV gave an example of such accusations through reporting the murder of Xu Xiaohong, a single woman who was murdered by a man she met on WeChat after he attempted to rob her. The location-reporting feature, according to reports, was the reason for the man’s knowing of the victim’s whereabouts. Authorities within China have linked WeChat to numerous crimes. The city of Hangzhou, for example, has reported over twenty crimes in the span of three months. [42][48]

Supporters[edit]

Supporters of the app argue that WeChat is overall safe. Martin Johnson, a founder of the anti-censorship site GreatFire.org, states that WeChat is a less potential threat than the app Weibo based on WeChat’s focus on messaging between well-known acquaintances and social groups. Doug Young, a Shanghai-based author of the Party Line, notes that while the app may practice self-censorship within China, it however will not practice the same censorship ideals outside of China. Doing so, according to Doug Young, would affect the apps image and possibility in expanding globally.[49]

Indiatimes had an article on why they thought WeChat had plentiful features and was a good alternative.[50]

Web client[edit]

WeChat provides a Web-based client, with messaging and file transfer capabilities, but not the other functions such as detection of nearby people. However, in order to use the Web-based client, it is necessary to first scan a QR code using the phone app. This means it is not possible to get onto the WeChat network if you do not possess a suitable smartphone with the app installed.[51]

Wechat can be accessed on Windows using Bluestacks.[52]

Possible trademark dispute[edit]

In 2012 TechInAsia reported a possible trademark dispute over the WeChat name.[53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tencent Inc. (June 25, 2014). "WeChat". App Store. Apple. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ Note:
    1. App Store has been noted 17+, which means download only for seventeen years and older (for Apple ID holder).
    2. iOS version available in iPhone only but user can run in iPad.
  3. ^ Template:Cite we
  4. ^ Tencent Inc. (June 25, 2014). "WeChat". Windows Phone Marketplace. Microsoft. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Tencent Inc. (December 28, 2012). "WeChat". Ovi Store. Nokia. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Tencent Inc. (July 18, 2012). "WeChat". BlackBerry App World. Research In Motion. Retrieved July 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ Tencent Inc. (March 17, 2014). "WeChat". Mac App Store. Apple. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Weixin (微信) – Tencent’s Bringing the Mobile IM Revolution to theMainstream". TechRice. September 21, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  9. ^ It’s time for messaging apps to quit the bullshit numbers and tell us how many users are active. techinasia.com. January 23, 2014. Steven Millward.
  10. ^ Mittal Mandalia (2014-02-28). "WeChat announces native Mac client; Windows version may follow soon". techienews.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  11. ^ Sohu IT page (in Chinese) "登陆依然需要手机扫描二维码" (registration still requires having your mobile scan a code)
  12. ^ "Tencent - Investor Relations - Financial Releases - 2014". Tencent. 14 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Tencent Inc. http://www.wechat.com/en/faq.html#iphone, Retrieved 24 November 2014
  14. ^ Tencent Inc. http://kf.qq.com/faq/120322fu63YV130422EJRNZv.html, Retrieved 24 November 2014
  15. ^ http://www.wechat.com/en/features.html
  16. ^ Tencent’s Group Messaging App WeChat Talks Its Way Into India, Tech in Asia
  17. ^ Loretta Chao , Paul Mozur (Nov 19, 2012). "Zhang Xiaolong, Wechat founder". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  18. ^ a b "微信进行时:厚积薄发的力量". 环球企业家. 2012-01-13. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  19. ^ a b 徐婷 (2012-08-11). "微信用户数受益智能机增长暴增抢走QQ份额". 华夏时报. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  20. ^ 陈小蒙 (2012-11-07). "微信:走出中国,走向世界?". 36氪. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  21. ^ "微信用户数破2亿 培育行业创新最有价值". 腾讯科技. 2012-09-17. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  22. ^ Steven Millward (2013-01-17). "Next Version of WeChat App Will Add Voice Chatrooms, Song Recognition [Screenshots]". techinasia.com. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  23. ^ 微信用户不到两年突破3亿
  24. ^ 逾9成网友反对微信收费 称“有大把可代替应用”
  25. ^ Wechat Mother's Day Greeting by Rainie Yang
  26. ^ "Chinese Messaging App WeChat Ropes In Parineeti Chopra And Varun Dhawan To Reach Out To The Youth". 
  27. ^ Wechat Oversea User Hit 70 Million, Hired Messi for Global Ad Promotion,China Internet Watch,August 20, 2013
  28. ^ "Lionel Messi Is The Latest Product Ambassador Of WeChat Messaging App". GSM Insider. 2013-07-06. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  29. ^ "Tencent announced WeChat has 72 million users outside China". Wechat world. 2013-07-14. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  30. ^ WeChat 5.0 for iPhone Release
  31. ^ 微信 5.0 for iPhone 全新发布
  32. ^ http://caixin.miniopen.qq.com/a/20130805/000027.htm
  33. ^ http://qz.com/218906/chinas-crackdown-on-prostitution-just-shut-down-20-million-wechat-accounts/
  34. ^ http://www.wechat.com/en/iPhone_6_0.html
  35. ^ "More 100 million WeChat users outside China". August 16, 2013. 
  36. ^ "传微信用户总数超6亿 海外业务或将独立". October 23, 2013. 
  37. ^ http://www.warc.com/Content/News/N31650_Chinese_love_smartphones_.content?PUB=Warc%20News&CID=N31650&ID=12c32f89-50c3-4514-8d76 445b8246c7fd&q=smartphones&qr=
  38. ^ Millward, Steven (10 January 2013). "Now China’s WeChat App is Censoring Its Users Globally". TECHINASIA. 
  39. ^ Millward, Steven (11 January 2013). "Tencent Responds in Case of Apparent WeChat Censorship". TECHINASIA. 
  40. ^ Muncaster, Phil (11 January 2013). "China censors chat users outside China". The Register. 
  41. ^ "WeChat: Domains Need ICP License Before Being Shared (Chinese)". QQ.com. 12 December 2014. 
  42. ^ a b c d e f http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/07/wechat-chinese-social-media-app
  43. ^ a b http://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/features/the-wechat-revolution-chinas-killer-app-for-mass-communication-494716
  44. ^ a b http://www.paritynews.com/2013/08/26/2487/wechat-is-a-threat-to-national-security-claim-researchers/
  45. ^ http://lighthouseinsights.in/chinese-mobile-messaging-app-wechat-still-a-big-worry-for-the-indian-government.html/
  46. ^ http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/839763.shtml
  47. ^ http://www.bjreview.com.cn/Cover_Stories_Series_2013/2013-08/05/content_559428_3.htm
  48. ^ http://www.techinasia.com/tencents-wechat-threat/
  49. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/11/us-china-censorship-tencent-idUSBRE9BA16M20131211
  50. ^ http://www.indiatimes.com/technology/mobile/10-reasons-why-wechat-is-better-than-whatsapp-58313-10.html
  51. ^ Web WeChat
  52. ^ "Wechat for PC"
  53. ^ http://www.techinasia.com/tencents-weixin-headed-trademark-dispute/

External links[edit]