The long awaited update to WeChat, the popular China-made messaging app, has arrived. This morning WeChat v5.0 for iOS is rolling out (to be followed by the Android iteration soon) with social gaming, mobile payments, and a proper sticker store. Plus a flatter iOS 7-style WeChat icon.
The WeChat sticker shop is the only surprise feature, making it easier to find the animated emoticons that have been a feature of the app from the beginning. WeChat’s mobile payments and social gaming integration have been anticipated for months, and for now are only really useful for Chinese users of the app. (Update: Indeed, a Tencent representative points out that only China users of the app – where it’s called Weixin – get the social gaming center and mobile payment functions).
WeChat has nearly 400 million registered users around the world, with just over 70 million of those outside of China.
WeChatting and gaming
WeChat’s social gaming linkage works a lot like in Line or KakaoTalk, with supported games letting you sign in via WeChat so as to share scores or challenge friends inside the messaging app. The creator of WeChat, Tencent (HKG:0700), has also updated its Bejeweled-like game TianTian Ai XiaoChu this morning to support WeChat gaming, with more third-party games expected to do so in due course. We’ve yet to see an English-language game incorporate this.
(Update: Added in above image of the sticker shop and new Hold Together feature). Mobile payments can be done in WeChat by scanning a QR code or barcode. We’ll test that out once we find a Chinese retailer that supports it.
According to WeChat’s iTunes Store page, the updated app also adds the ability to save favorite content clippings from chats or Moments, and now you can add friends nearby easily with the new Hold Together function.
WeChat v5.0 is now in the iOS App Store.
(Editing by Anh-Minh Do)