WeChat Update Brings Video and Voice Calling to Its iPhone App

Steven Millward
9:00 am on Jul 20, 2012

Remember those screenshots of a rumored new video calling feature in WeChat, the Chinese-made group messaging app that has more than 100 million users? Well, it turns out all that was true, and v4.2 of Tencent’s (HKG:0700) popular app is now live in the iTunes App Store with video and voice calling, and a whole bunch of other features. With this move, WeChat is clearly challenging Apple’s Facetime, as well as more traditional IM apps like Skype.

In a neat bit of implementation, you can switch between voice or video dynamically without having to end the online call. No word from Tencent, though, on how much 3G data these kinds of calls will take.

Chief among the other new features in this WeChat update for iOS – the Android refresh is expected soon, bringing the same goodies – is a web app interface that’s accessible at wx.qq.com. That allows WeChat users to type out messages more easily on their laptop or PC keyboard, and is accessed via a QR code (pictured right) that can be scanned with the QR scanner that’s already inside the WeChat app.

WeChat is Tencent’s first big push for a global social success – and it seems to have worked, rising to over 100 million users since its launch in January 2012. Last time we checked in on WeChat – known as Weixin in Chinese – we noted how police were warning users about the “nearby people” function of the messaging app, which could leave some folks vulnerable to scammers and other crooks. Thankfully that feature is switched off by default, so the new video chat feature in the updated app should be safe to use with your buddies.

  • Shanghai Tom

    Have the latest version on Android, the web i/f face is hard to log into, scanning the on-screen qr code took forever, looks like the camera was refocusing every 1 second or so, and the scan takes longer than that.

    Eventually got it running and it’s very handy when you are on your PC, especially as it mirrors the chats to your phone in almost realtime.

    If it allowed multiple chat windows open at once it would be a real winner.

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