Upgrade now to WeChat 7.0.5, available on the iOS App Store and Google Play and try the latest improvements and features
1. Big changes to Moments
“Moments” allows you to share life’s most interesting experiences with your WeChat friends. In the latest version of Moments, we’ve made sharing even more “musical”. Now, you can search and add song snippets from WeChat’s comprehensive music collection to the videos you shoot and share to your Moments.
When browsing your friends’ Moments, videos will automatically play with the sound muted. You can tap on the video to view a fullscreen version of the video with audio. Worried about using too much data? Don’t worry, videos on WeChat use special methods to make video downloads on Moments use no more data than downloading a photo. Additionally, you can change your auto-play options within “Me” -> “Settings” => “General” => “Photos & Videos”.
Finally, at the request of many users, we’ve made it even easier for you to control WHO is able to view your Moments. When posting to Moments, you can select “Share List” => “Select from Groups” and select one or more groups who will have permission to view your Moments post. After selecting, only members of those groups will be able to view your post. This is another great way to make sure that only the people you care about see your personal photos, funny baby videos, or other Moments posts.
Select one or more groups. Afterwards, only members of these groups will be able to view your Moments post.
2. Time Capsule: Supports photos montages and music lyrics
“Time Capsule” is WeChat’s latest major feature and allows you to share a short video story with your friends for a brief period of time. Now, Time Capsule supports selecting multiple photos from your photo album after which a photo montage will be automatically created. It’s a great way to share either photos OR videos with your friends.
Also, while sharing photos or videos, you can now search a song title, artist, or lyrics to accompany your video. An additional option allows you to display a song’s lyrics. Decorating your Time Capsule with song lyrics adds extra feeling to your Time Capsule.
Search and add a song from WeChat’s extensive music collection
Enable “Lyrics” to display song lyrics to accompany your Time Capsule video
3. Floating Window now supports multiple windows and window types
Have you ever needed to view your chat messages while reading an article within WeChat or playing a Mini Game? It’s a hassle to back out of your article mid-stream in order to check your messages.
Floating Window was initially introduced in 2017 as a way for you to save your place and minimize an article while checking other parts of WeChat like chats. We’ve now greatly expanded Floating Window so that you can “float” up to 10 different windows. Windows can be articles, document previews, or nearly any other type of content. When viewing a music or audio Mini Program, you’ll also be able to see what’s playing via our new music display in Floating Window. Floating Window makes multi-tasking within WeChat a breeze.
When viewing an article, document preview, or other content, simply swipe right and hold to minimize the article to your Floating Window.
The Floating Window appears as a small tab that you can move around the screen.
Tapping on the Floating Window tab shows all of the screens that you’ve “floated” and can easily reopen. Float articles, document previews, and tons of other screens to make your WeChat browsing experience even more convenient.
Be sure to download the latest version of WeChat now and try out all of these new improvements!
WeChat continues to push forward with more ways to connect and communicate. Our latest version, WeChat 7.0.4 is now available on both the iOS App Store and Google Play and introduces the following new improvements:
1. Improvements to Time Capsule
We first introduced Time Capsule at the beginning of this year as the easiest way to share funny moments or short pet videos with your friends. From the “Me” tab, tap the camera icon in the upper right-hand corner to begin recording your own Time Capsule and it will be shared with your friends for 24 hours.
With the latest version of Time Capsule, after capturing a video, tap the music note button to receive a smart recommendation about what song to accompany your Time Capsule. You can swipe left or right to sift through the recommendations.
Already know what song you want? Tap the search bar and search for the song that you want to play in the background of your Time Capsule.
Music makes your short Time Capsule videos even more lively and interesting!
Check out your friends’ Time Capsules by tapping the “Time Capsule” area at the top of Moments. When viewing their Time Capsule, you can now leave a private comment by tapping the Comment bubble at the bottom. Any comments that you leave will only be viewable by the owner of the Time Capsule so all your comments and “bubble” likes remain completely private!
We’ve also added the ability for you to mark a Time Capsule as “private” so that only you will be able to view it. This is a great way to use Time Capsule as your daily video diary available for your viewing only.
2. Moments privacy options
At the request of many users, we’ve added a new option to Moments to limit the length of time that your Moments posts remain viewable to others. Previously we offered the option to limit availability of your posts to other to three days and six months. Now, by going to “Me” -> “Settings” -> “Privacy” you can also set your Moments to only be viewable to others for one month. As always, your Moments or Time Capsule posts will always be available to you by going to “Me” -> “My Posts”, even if you limit viewing to others.
Together, these Moments and Time Capsule offers the best way for you to record your everyday life while still maintaining your personal privacy.
3. Translate images in chats
WeChat is used around-the-world and we want to make communication even easier for our users. Previously, we offered chat message translation — if you receive a text message in WeChat in a foreign language, just long press the message and select “translate” to translate it to your language.
Now, you can do the same for photos in your chats. Open any image in your chat that contains Chinese text, long-press the image, select “Translate Image Text”. Your image will be automatically scanned for Chinese text and will be translated for you in an instant.
NOTE: This feature is initially being released for a select number of users and will be available to all users soon. Translating image in chats is currently only supported for English and Simplified Chinese users. We hope to support this valuable feature in additional languages soon.
4. Registration and Log In via Facebook Login
Are you registering for WeChat for the first time? In that case, we’ve added a new option that will make Facebook even more convenient: When tapping “Sign Up”, you can now select “Sign up via Facebook” to link your WeChat account to your Facebook account.
After verifying your Facebook account, you will still need to provide and verify your mobile number. However, subsequent to signing up via Facebook, you will be able to easily log in to your WeChat account via your Facebook account instead of having to type in a password.
Are you already a WeChat user? You can gain access to this easy way to log in by going to “Me” -> “Settings” -> “Account Security” -> “More Settings” and tapping “Facebook”.
To protect your privacy, your Facebook is not viewable to others from your WeChat profile.
Be sure to download the latest version of WeChat now and try out all of these new improvements!
Editors’ note: Recently there’s been heated discussion of WeChat as an example of the “all-in-one app” trend that has been circling many tech circles. We would like to take the opportunity to share our official translation of a recent speech by WeChat founder Allen Zhang, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent, and President of WeChat Business Group, at WeChat’s Open Class Pro event on Jan 9th 2019.
In his 4-hour-long speech, Allen asserted that the number of users always has a maximum ceiling, but the value that mobile apps can deliver via improved services is limitless. Constant innovation is the only solution for a brighter future. However, there is a limit to how much a single app can hold, therefore WeChat is expanding to revolve around different standalone apps (including WeRead) and will try different services that are independent from but related to WeChat.
Please note that the content is a translation of a speech originally delivered in Chinese and does not necessarily represent the exact wording in Chinese.
Good evening everyone! I’m Allen Zhang.
We just looked at some complaints (on screen). Very good, because every day I hear complaints, I’m already used to it. I feel that in China, every day there are 500 million people saying we are not doing well and 100 million people wanting to teach me how to make products. I think this is very normal. But I’m not here to teach everyone how to make products.
I feel this year was special, WeChat’s eighth year. In August, WeChat’s daily login rate surpassed one billion. This is a momentous milestone, possibly the first Chinese app to reach one billion daily active users. We never released such information before. Maybe to us it was just a matter of time, but to a mobile product developer, it is still an achievement worth celebrating.
Design Principles and Changes
My friend once told me: “In the internet industry, WeChat is a different breed.” What he meant was that WeChat is different from other products. I was shocked, and at the same time very proud.
I was proud because “a different breed” meant WeChat is one of a kind, and even outstanding. But I was shocked because WeChat is only dedicated to making a good product, and because of that we are one of a kind? It is because many products do not see themselves as products, and don’t see users as users. At WeChat, we have merely done these basics two things.
WeChat is different from many products, which is exhibited in many aspects. For example, when it comes to Chinese New Year, many apps will change their logo and interface to red and yellow for the holiday, making it look like stir-fried eggs and tomatoes. However, WeChat does not do that. Many people ask us why we insist on not doing it.
Currently, WeChat has reached one billion DAU (daily active users). Because of this, I am actually more willing to spend some time talking in-depth about WeChat’s origin and core ideas to help explain our thought process behind WeChat.
Honestly, sometimes I just want to ask everyone: What kind of product is considered a good product? One with lots of users? One that is addictive? Or what?
I remember a few years back, we were playing with Apple’s iPhone and analyzing how such a good product was designed. I remember there was a German product designer, Dieter Rams, who came up with ten principles of good design; he was also highly regarded by Apple.
I will list these ten principles for everyone. Think about these in the context of WeChat, it’s very interesting:
The first is a good product is innovative; it must have creativity.
The second is it is useful.
The thirdis it is beautiful.
The fourth is it is easy to use.
The fifth is it is unobtrusive, modest.
The sixth is it is honest.
The seventh is it is timeless; it won’t become outdated.
The eighth is it does not skip over any small detail.
The ninth is it is environmentally friendly and does not waste any resources.
The tenthis it is not overly designed, that is ‘less is more’.
Many would think that these principles are only suitable for Apple because they design and produce physical products, but users’ interaction with software products is much more frequent. If you give users an instruction, they will follow it. Users do what you prompt them to do. Both hardware and software products are essentially tools, so principles for tool design are applicable. The reason why I highlighted these principles is because I believe that many products in the industry do not emphasize product design, or rather that product design is not their objective – design is just used to pad out a feature or squeeze profits from users.
WeChat never changes their logo or icon for holidays, many people will say that WeChat is practicing “self-restraint”. However, this decision doesn’t at all come from “self-restraint”, but rather it stems from our conviction towards good design principles. We will not make any changes that will damage the aesthetics of our product.
I noticed that in various industries, when a product manager graduates and starts working, the company will misguide them. Because the company’s objective is to increase traffic and make money, hence everyone’s KPI is also to increase traffic and make money. This means the product manager’s work objective is not to create the best product, but to use whatever means necessary to obtain traffic.
We do not support this way. What we advocate more is to use WeChat to create good products for our users.
I’m grateful for my past experience – from the PC era creating Foxmail, and later QQMail, to the smartphone era creating WeChat – because I have experienced many, many products. It’s to the point that my gut can tell what is a good product and what isn’t, which helps guide me in creating products.
Once I asked my colleagues a question: “In the PC era, what page has the most views?” The answer is Internet Explorer’s error 404 page. Then I asked, “Why didn’t Microsoft put an ad on the page?” My colleagues could not answer. This question is very meaningful, yes. Why didn’t Microsoft place an ad on a page with such high traffic? Why doesn’t WeChat place an ad on its startup page? Everyone can think about this.
WeChat is eight years old. Think for a second, how much time do you spend on WeChat every day? Do you spend more time with your closest family and friends, or with WeChat? If WeChat was a person, certainly it would be your best friend, that’s why you’re willing to spend so much time on it. Then, how could I stick an ad on your best friend’s face? Every time you saw him, you would have to watch an ad before you could talk to him.
Interestingly, because we stick to our principles, we must change many things… The important thing is that we make sure our products adapt to the era we are in, rather than failing to adapt it out of fear that users will complain.
Interestingly, because we stick to our principles, we must change many things.
This reminds me of the major change we made in WeChat version 7.0’s user interface. Many users complained, saying that they weren’t used to it.
Actually, any major updates will always cause user dissatisfaction because people are used to whatever they are familiar with, and whatever they are familiar with is the best. We cannot poll 1 billion users to decide what is good. So, how do we improve our design through such changes, making sure that the change is for the better? These decisions must follow good principles.
Just like WeChat version 7.0, we spent a very long time on it; I kept switching my own WeChat back and forth between the old and new versions. After a while, I wasn’t willing to switch back to the old version. Maybe users cannot accept the new version right away, but I believe that after they become familiar with it, they will accept it. The important thing is that we make sure our products adapt to the era we are in, rather than failing to adapt it out of fear that users will complain.
Especially regarding UI, we can never please everyone. But we can make the product more beautiful, adapting it to or even shaping our users’ aesthetic preferences, instead of lagging behind.
Many people have probably heard this story before, but back then, I wrote an email to Pony [Ma Huateng] about creating WeChat. This is a true story, though there are also some made-up stories out there, like that we went to some temple… Anyway, thinking back to that email, from time to time I experience a kind of post-event fear – if I didn’t send that email that night, and I went to shoot some pool instead, then there probably would be no WeChat, or another team in the company might have made a different WeChat.
I find that many ideas come suddenly, as if God has programmed a code and puts it in your mind at the right time.
But that doesn’t mean traces of the idea for WeChat cannot be found before that moment. A year before WeChat was released, we had made QQMail into China’s most popular email provider. We tried many new things with it, such as Message in a Bottle, and I also spent a year designing Reading Corner in the email inbox.
Subsequently, a lot of our later WeChat products have borne some traces of QQMail, such as Subscription Accounts and Moments. We experimented with different methods of social interaction in QQMail’s Reading Corner; based on a social form of reading, friends could share and discuss articles with friends.
But Reading Corner was only a small part of the email inbox, so not many people used it. It got to the point where we felt we had reached the limits of the product and that it was time to change direction.
When Kik came out, I realized there was an opportunity – this opportunity did not necessarily just stem from Kik as a product, but it came from me starting to use a smartphone, and from the lack of good communication tools in many PC products and messaging software. My thought was very simple at that time – I wanted to make a communication tool for myself and others to use. Coincidentally we had a team developing a mobile version of QQMail, so we assembled a team of 10 to start work on WeChat. Including back-end developers, three mobile front-end developers, UI, myself, and a recent graduate on my team, 10 people in total. In two months, we had created the first version.
This is how WeChat got started, and this past year has been WeChat’s 8th year, a meaningful milestone. It marks the maturation of our product since its birth.
At that time, we had one principle: if a new product cannot grow naturally, we should not market it. So in the first five months, we did not promote it ourselves, we were waiting to see if users would be attracted to WeChat, if they would promote it themselves. If users were not willing to do this, whatever marketing we did would be meaningless.
I remember when WeChat version 2.0 was introduced, we saw user growth, not very rapid growth, but it was increasing naturally. At that moment, we knew we could start marketing it. We were grateful we made a couple of good decisions. First, we did not import users a large group of friends, instead letting users choose who to share it with one-by-one. Second, when the product was not yet recognized, we let it grow naturally rather than market it. These two things were the right way to do it. Although it took more time, it meant that the product was healthy when it really started to grow.
I would like to mention a statistic: in August this year, WeChat daily active users surpassed one billion.
This is probably the first product in China to exceed one billion DAU.
When it exceeded one billion DAU, our team did not celebrate. Everyone felt reaching 1 billion was a matter of time. But when I saw the data, I was touched.
I am very happy that I can accompany a product for 8 years. Moreover, I have always seen myself as a product manager, not a business manager. I believe this is necessary, because a good product requires a certain degree of ‘dictatorship’, otherwise it will embody all sorts of different, conflicting opinions and its personality will become fragmented.
Hence this year’s open class is different from that of previous years. I am more willing to explain our thinking behind different aspects of WeChat.
I believe it will be useful for everyone to understand WeChat.
WeChat’s driving force can be summarized into two points… First, create a good tool that can keep up with the times… The second driving force is “let creators cultivate value”.
Driving force stems from a deep understanding and expectation of ourselves. It is powerful. It can last very long, overcoming many obstacles.
WeChat’s driving force can be summarized into two points.
First, create a good tool that can keep up with the times.
It’s because I am passionate about tool-like products, that I even coded and created a product like Foxmail to fulfill my desire for creation. In order to create an excellent product, I think it is good to be obsessed about it. WeChat’s foundation is to be an excellent tool.
I am very clear that in the current business environment, many users are actually very tolerant of forced experiences, even though it is terrible.
Many people think that it is normal, for example, opening their apps and seeing ads, or receiving system push notifications with marketing messages, being lured into clicking on links – this is all normal now. There are many examples like this. If we go back to the SMS era, everyone’s spam messages were more than their actual messages. What is scary is not this huge amount of spam messages, what is scary is users thinking this is normal.
Once you know what is a good product and what is a bad product, you will not accept a lousy feature being forced upon users.
Hence WeChat makes it a point to create a good tool, a tool that can accompany users for many years. To the users, the tool is like an old friend.
Whether or not it is keeping up with the times depends on the user, not us. WeChat is a tool, and thus needs to earn the recognition of our users.
Everyone knows WeChat has a slogan: “WeChat is a lifestyle”.
“Why is it “a” lifestyle and not “a kind of” lifestyle?” At that time when my colleague asked me, I could not explain clearly. But I know if it is “a kind of” lifestyle, it is just a common message, not suitable to be used as a slogan, people will not remember it. It must be a lifestyle that belongs to WeChat only, a unique statement. At that time, WeChat did not cover so many aspects of life, WeChat Pay didn’t even exist. But in hindsight, it really represented a lifestyle.
This is a lifestyle. Actually, I have a nagging thought, WeChat will penetrate every person’s daily life. It should change as trends change, or even lead those trends. However, I’m not sure how WeChat will penetrate users’ daily lives. Which aspect of life? If we do not set it as a lifestyle, and we label it as a communication tool, it will be too superficial and will limit our potential. Thinking about it now, suggesting at that time to call it a lifestyle was very bold.
Now we can see that WeChat has entered different aspects of people’s lives: group chats, Moments, Red Packets, Official Accounts, Mini Programs, and so on. I feel that WeChat has achieved the dream of being “a lifestyle”.
The second driving force is “let creators cultivate value”.
We released Official Accounts on a very early version of WeChat. This was an innovation by WeChat. At that time our thought was, “If WeChat replaces SMS, then what are the market’s needs in the SMS era?” Many services had to use SMS to communicate to their users. Since we replaced SMS, we needed to provide something of similar capabilities to serve the market’s needs.
But I know that since SMS and email can be sent in mass to many users with no way to control it, this produced some well-known negative side effects. So, we thought, if WeChat chooses to provide a subscriptions model, it would help protect users from being harassed or cheated. It also would allow services to control who to target with what message. This would bridge the gap between customers and businesses. I still remember at that time we were so excited when we came up with the idea, that we messaged Pony saying this mechanism will be immensely powerful. Pony asked, “What about the spam messages?” And I said that by nature there would be no spam because users are the ones subscribing to the services they want to receive messages from.
So, after the Official Accounts Platform got started, and we expanded from connecting people to connecting services, WeChat began to reflect the advantages of being a platform, later including Mini Programs.
Making a platform requires a driving force. Without that, we may have just been reduced into being a service provider platform. Many would not have heard of the platform.
When a platform only focuses on pursuing its own benefits, I believe it is short sighted, it won’t last. When a platform can benefit the people, then it will take on a life of its own.
When we were creating Official Accounts, we would think: “What problems do we want to help people solve?” Of course, it was the problem and disadvantages of information asymmetry. Let’s use an example: traditional business all depends on renting a store location in an area with high foot traffic; but with the internet, location is no longer the advantage, your service is your advantage. Then, we want to help those people and businesses that truly have good service find and reach out to potential customers.
At that time, the most popularly used case study was about helping a blind person with no technical ability find customers. They should have an Official Account, which their customers can share with their friends. So, we decided to make the slogan for Official Accounts “Everyone, no matter how small, can have their own brand”. Their Official Account is their brand. Moreover, the brand is based on attention and recognition.
Our driving force at this time was to let people who create value cultivate value for other users. Because WeChat breaks down the barrier brought by information asymmetry, users can get better quality services. Then, people will think of more solutions to provide services that can match user demand and expectations for quality – therein lies the key driving force of Official Accounts.
The same applied later when we created Mini Programs. If we cannot allow outstanding Mini Program developers to reap more benefits in return, this ecosystem would only grow a little – what would the point be?
This year, I actually saw a real-life example of that case study. A friend posted on his Moments that he discovered many blind massage therapists using Mini Programs to find customers. Seeing this filled me with joy. This was the exact situation that we had originally brought up as what we wanted to achieve.
Much of WeChat’s innovation stems from these two driving forces. From a professional standpoint, everyone may think that this was a prediction of the future.
But I believe all predictions in business stem, most importantly, from driving forces. Or we can say, a good product has its own mission.
I am grateful that all these years, WeChat’s driving force has never changed.
Making the Best Tool vs Capturing Users’ Time
These two years, the goal of apps across the industry has been to try their best to keep users in their app as long as possible. This goes against my beliefs…. The primary goal for technology should be helping humankind increase efficiency.
In relation to the two driving forces, I will go a bit in-depth about “making the best tool”.
Keeping to this principle, when I have observed many products in our industry, I have often felt that there are many things that go against my beliefs.
For example, these two years, the goal of apps across the industry has been to try their best to keep users in their app as long as possible. This goes against my beliefs.
A user only has limited time in a day, so this goal of maximizing user time in-app is secondary. The primary goal for technology should be helping humankind increase efficiency.
For example, a good communication tool must be highly efficient. That’s why WeChat does not have a message status, the reason being that the most efficient method is to just send and go. You don’t have to worry whether the message was sent or not, if it was successfully sent or successfully received, and even don’t worry whether or not there is a network issue.
If it’s an information search tool, it should help users obtain the most useful information in the shortest time. If it’s a kind of entertainment product, users staying a bit longer is not an issue. Like when I watch a TV series, I will spend a lot of my time watching it. Of course, though, it should not endlessly add episodes to the series just to capture more of my time.
Here’s an interesting phenomenon: video software now allows users to change the speed of the video, with many users choosing to watch the entire series at 2x speed. I guess this is a way for users to vote with their feet when they encounter TV series that drag on too long.
Speaking of user visit duration, it reminds me of around year 2000, when the internet had just come around, there was a popular term called ‘attention economics’. Every websites’ goal was to grab as much attention as possible. Hence, we saw articles being divided into many pages, you read a little and clicked to next page. This let websites add an advertisement on each page and increase their page views. This still happens now. There are also sites where users must click to expand the full text. This can get more clicks in the short term, but I don’t think this is a good product.
There’s another interesting example about user visit duration. From the day Moments was released to now, users’ friends have increased more and more. Logically, content on Moments continues to increase as well. However, everyone fails to realize that even as users’ friends and content increase, everyone is still spending the same amount of time on Moments, about 30 minutes. When you have fewer friends, you read slowly and with more focus. When you have more friends, you browse faster.
Actually, users won’t divide their time based on the amount of content you have, but I believe this is reasonable. If we insist on extending their visit duration, we have many ways to do it. However, this would only frustrate users, because their social interaction efficiency would decrease. If we insist on increasing the 30 minutes to an hour, it will only mean that efficiency will go down.
So, using visit duration to evaluate an app strays away from my aspirations and understanding of the internet. Everyone only has 24 hours in a day. The mission of developers shouldn’t be to make users spend all their time on their phones aside from when they eat and sleep.
A few years ago, we had a version of WeChat with a statement encouraging users to put down their phones and meet their friends more in-person. This view has never changed. WeChat will never make user in-app time our objective. Instead, we are more concerned with when our users communicate, post a picture, read an article, make a payment, or find a Mini Program, that they can do it as quickly and efficiently as possible – this is what makes the best tool.
We are willing to brainstorm thousands of ideas to increase this kind of efficiency. For example, I want to send a message to a specific person, but I can’t remember their name. If we have a more intelligent solution to this, like an associative capability that helps you remember that specific person through people associated with them. That is, when your brain goes blank, we can help you find the information you want. This is something very important that we must work on.
Things that benefit oneself but not others do not last. Mini Programs’ mission is to allow creators to cultivate value and also benefit from it.Just because we have a lot of user traffic doesn’t mean we should distribute it… If we didn’t decentralize it, Tencent could monopolize the platform with its own Mini Programs, but there would be no external developers. Sure, Tencent would benefit in the short term, but the platform ecosystem would not.
There are many companies making Mini Programs now. I think this is a good thing. Some of their API is like ours, but I’m not worried this will pose a threat to us. We may be doing the same thing, but besides our platform and team being different, the most important difference is: what is your driving force?
If you just want to borrow Mini Programs as a medium to profit from traffic, I’m not optimistic about it. Things that benefit oneself but not others do not last.
Let’s recap: Mini Programs’ mission is to allow creators to cultivate value and also benefit from it. Everything we do revolves around this mission. Just because we have a lot of user traffic doesn’t mean we should distribute it. We should let Mini Programs produce and reflect this value from user traffic.
A lot of people do not understand why Mini Programs is decentralized. If we didn’t decentralize it, Tencent could monopolize the platform with its own Mini Programs, but there would be no external developers. Sure, Tencent would benefit in the short term, but the platform ecosystem would not.
Even the companies that Tencent invests in should follow the platform rules like everyone else, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair. I know everyone thinks that WeChat has been biased towards these companies. I have to say, maybe we have not done it well, but I believe from now on our team will dedicate more resources and manpower to ensure that we treat all companies equally.
Looking back at Mini Programs, from the very beginning to now it has been 3 years. It seems quite slow. I feel that Mini Programs has been our biggest challenge at WeChat, and also the biggest challenge in my own professional career. Because we never before tried announcing something that we had not created yet.
The reason why we announced it before it was made is because we wanted to give everyone pressure such that we had no choice but to do it, and absolutely had to complete it.
I remember clearly the night I announced that we were creating Mini Programs, I sat down with my team to discuss a topic: How many ways could our Mini Programs fail? I remember very clearly because we were talking about how difficult it would be instead of how bright its future would be.
Why did we insist on doing this [creating Mini Programs]? Because I believe this is an inevitable trend for the future. Because mobile apps need to all be downloaded and installed, and websites’ user experience is terrible. I spoke about this in a previous open class.
A lot of people don’t understand why websites’ user experience is terrible, just like they fail to understand why Official Accounts’ user experience is better than that of websites. WeChat used some methods to pre-define the experience, such as pre-defined layout. This allows even amateurs to create an experience that is reasonably good to users.
Our conviction to making Mini Programs has been very strong. We have not been in a rush to finish it. It is an ecosystem, not a B2C function, hence we have been patient, nurturing it slowly. After our experience creating Official Accounts, we do not want businesses to misuse Mini Programs as just a source of traffic to recklessly reap profits.
Even today, we cannot say that Mini Programs has been a complete success. I believe it still needs improving. To us, when we see that Mini Programs is getting closer and closer to our original aspirations, it means we are making progress.
We are seeing more traditional businesses using Mini Programs as a tool to connect to their customers, which has increased their business performance. These are excellent examples.
Mini Programs is not perfect yet, there are some things we have to work on.
We will continue to think of ways to make Mini Programs more accessible to users. But do not expect us to do something that is aggressive and frustrating to users.
Now, every day 750 million people go into Moments, with each person going in an average of over 10 times, so that is a total of 10 billion times each day… But there are some negative side effects to this… If I could turn back time and had the chance to do Moments again, I would make the album private.
I’m going to talk about something I never have before. I have never talked about WeChat’s origins and its foundation, so I will be spending some time talking about WeChat’s social aspect.
What is the origin of socialization? Of course, this does not have a definite answer, everyone has their own ideas.
My idea is this:
Maybe in prehistoric times, socialization was born when humans started forming groups. The most important need for a person in a group is to not be excluded, hence people must talk with one another. What do they talk about? Really they just boast about themselves to demonstrate their value to the group. This is my imagination about prehistoric interaction, everyone does not have to take it too seriously.
On Moments, everyone must post over-exaggerated pictures of themselves on vacation and stuff, this is really just a continuation of our habits from prehistoric times as users attempt to avoid being excluded.
Many years ago, I asked a question on Zhihu, “What is the essence of communication?” Actually, this is a question with no answer.
I later thought of an answer myself, but it is by no means the correct, standard answer. It is “communication is the process of inculcating one’s self-image into another person’s mind.” What does this mean? Everyone has an image of themselves they want people to accept. Every sentence we say, intentional or not, is said with the hope that others will accept this image of ourselves. On the surface, we may be discussing something, but in actuality we want others to perceive and accept the image we try to portray ourselves as. Of course, this is just a convenient way for me to understand why we socialize, it’s not a scientific explanation.
Posting on Moments is just the process of portraying our desired image and placing it in our friends’ minds.
For example, everything you post is in hopes of convincing your friends to see you as a certain kind of person. It is an image you designed yourself. Hence, all your Moments posts are carefully selected to help craft this image.
So Moments is a place to portray your image.
Why does Moments encourage posting pictures instead of text? Writing text is a bit more complicated; writing a paragraph to post can be a difficult and frustrating process to many people. It is especially difficult if it is meant to portray our image. Posting a picture is much easier.
So, to help users portray their image, we created this tool to make it as easy as taking a photo. But for those people who are more conscious, they will ask themselves: What kind of image of myself do I want to portray?
Many years ago, whenever I posted on Weibo, I would ask myself: “What do you want to portray?” Most of the time when I asked myself this question, I would give up and delete what I had already begun to draft. Of course, most people aren’t like this. The bigger one’s weakness, the more one wants to post on Moments to strengthen that weakness. This is normally the thought process.
But there are some negative side effects to this.
If you post a few more pictures of yourself on vacation, everyone will think you are always on vacation. If you post some pictures of yourself working overtime, everyone will think you are always working overtime. This tool may be useful to portray your image, but it can go overboard. It is difficult for you to portray your reality.
Just like how we aren’t always happy or unhappy at every moment. But if your post says you are happy, everyone tends to think you are always happy. A lot of what we see on Moments are the best images portrayed by people, whereas the bad parts are not included.
We do not have a tool that records our day truthfully.
This is why we decided to create the short-video status feature called “Time Capsule”.
Actually, I want to say a bit more about Moments. Many people say they want to escape Moments or say they don’t really use Moments anymore. But in fact this is an illusion that everyone in the internet world sees. Everyone often takes the situation of people around them and makes it the situation of people all over the world. But it’s not like that. Because Moments is socialization, how can one escape from socialization? Even if you post less, you will still check it, like posts, and comment. It is an act of socialization.
There is a statistic I want to announce here. Since launch, the daily number of people going into Moments has always been increasing, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Now, every day 750 million people go into Moments, with each person going in an average of over 10 times, so that is a total of 10 billion times each day.
I feel that Moments is the backbone of online socialization for Chinese people. It is possible that it is China’s most effective social tool. It currently has so many users and visits every day. It feels like checking Moments is a routine task to complete one’s daily requirement for socialization. Maybe a user didn’t leave their house all day, but this didn’t prevent them from socializing. Even if you do not post on Moments, you will still check it; you are socializing by liking and commenting.
All the product managers here, let’s analyze: Why does Moments have so many users? Even though these users have grown up and maybe their environments have changed, they still use Moments. Many users’ methods of social interaction have not changed for many years. Just like my idea about prehistoric people, socialization has not changed, or we should say that the need for socialization has not changed. Online socialization is just a reflection of offline socialization.
If there was no internet, whenever we wanted social interaction we would get together for a big lunch or attend some party, where we would then say hi to familiar friends, but it would not be very efficient because the requirements of time and location create restrictions.
What is the basic essence of Moments? Really, Moments created a new location for socialization. I would compare it to a town square.
You spend half an hour every day walking through the town square. While walking, you see groups of people chatting and discussing different things as you pass. You know these people, and you can stop and join their discussion. You also realize that you know every single person in the group.
You can go over to say ‘hi’ or join them for a while. You can then turn around and leave, walk to another group to join or not join any at all; or you can simply say ‘hi’, like what they say, and leave. This way, when you have finished browsing Moments, you have finished walking around the town square.
I want to emphasize this design – in Moments, you can only see activity of mutual friends. This means that the discussions you engage in involve friends who all know each other. This makes socialization more fulfilling as there are more friends engaging in meaningful interactions.
Within half an hour, you’ve seen many friends, seen many topics they are discussing, and joined them in some discussions. You have already completed your online socialization need for the day. Such an efficient socialization tool like this, of course you would find it hard to leave it.
However, Moments has a weakness. It has caused users to want to leave Moments. Because it is like a town square, when you like or comment on something it is akin to shouting in the town square. Everyone can hear you. This creates more stress for users. Moreover, as your friend list increases, the stress becomes greater.
When Moments was launched, I posted over ten photos every day. Now, I post once every few months. Many people feel this kind of stress when posting on Moments.
Hence, this is a problem that we have been constantly thinking about. Although Moments is an efficient socialization tool, it can be stressful when it comes to expressing oneself.
So we need to think of a new way to help users be braver about expressing themselves.
But here is a dilemma. If we want users to communicate freely at the lowest stress level possible, the only situation is talking to oneself. But when you talk to yourself there are no responses from your friends, meaning there is no social benefit. The more people the user talks to, the greater the social benefit, but the stress is also greater. That’s why many people set their Moments posts to only be visible to friends for 3 days, so that they feel less stress.
A lot of people ask me, why would one set their Moments visibility to three days? Won’t their friends be upset? Let me briefly explain.
Normally, as a toggle in privacy settings, not many people would use it. Product developers all know, the majority of users are rather lazy. But actually this Moments privacy setting is used by many users – over 100 million users have set their Moments visibility to three days.
If I could turn back time and had the chance to do Moments again, I would make the album private. From a product standpoint, Moments and its album can be entirely separated. A photo could be stored in your album as a memento to look back at later, or it could also be posted and displayed on Moments. It was a mistake made during development to combine them.
So we encourage users to set their Moments visibility to three days. Hopefully this will alleviate some stress and allow them to bravely post on Moments. Users don’t have to worry about friends digging into their history later.
If a user insists on displaying their history, they should have something else to display it, like for carefully selected and prepared photos, instead of using their status posts on the Moments timeline as a way to display their history.
WeChat has never said that its objective is to increase the number of users. If we wanted to, we could have done it a few years ago and reached the one billion DAU milestone even earlier… The number of users is always limited, service is unlimited… In times like this, innovation is the only solution for the future… So, finding what kind of needs users will have in the future is our objective as we sit at one billion users.
WeChat has reached one billion daily active users. We have always felt that the number of users we have is not very important. But people always bring up user numbers to determine their position and the gap they must improve on. But I don’t feel this is right.
WeChat has never said that its objective is to increase the number of users. If we wanted to, we could have done it a few years ago and reached the one billion DAU milestone even earlier. But that’s not how it is. Our number of users grows organically. In my view, what we should consider is what kind of services we want to provide to our users – this is a more important question.
The number of users is always limited, service is unlimited. Previously, an ‘era’ was basically 10 years long, but since the coming of the internet era and mobile internet era, I feel that an era is now only three to five years. This means that the change of eras is happening faster than ever, new demands are coming faster. In times like this, innovation is the only solution for the future.
With these constant and rapid changes, we don’t really need to be concerned about how many more users we can get. We are focused on how to meet future needs. So, finding what kind of needs users will have in the future is our objective as we sit at one billion users.
We realize that WeChat as an app contains many, many features, making it look simple. But there is a limit to how much it can hold, so our next step will revolve around different apps, trying different services that are related to WeChat. Just like the app WeRead, if we really needed to insert books into WeChat, it seems like we could do it. But making it a standalone app with its own development and growth, this seems more appropriate.
At this momentous juncture of eight years and one billion users, our team is thinking of how WeChat is going to take on the next eight years of challenges. These challenges will not come from competitors, but rather will stem from users. Users will continue to change every year. We will face new users and new needs.
No matter what we do to respond to these new needs, if we follow our key driving forces “making the best tool” and “letting value creators cultivate value”, I don’t think we will deviate too much.
Sometimes when we look back on the changes brought about by WeChat over the years, we feel a sense of accomplishment. A lot of time, people will ask me, how are we different from others? I think that one difference is this: when we are thinking of a problem or what to do, we often ask ourselves, what is the meaning of doing this?
Of course, I know many teams won’t ask about meaning when they do things, they only ask, “What is our KPI?” Honestly, since the beginning, the WeChat team has never worked towards KPI before. This does not impede us from constantly improving. Just like Mini Programs, if we had used KPI, we would not know what KPI to set because there was no such thing. If we had set a KPI, everyone would not know what to do.
Everyone in our team has developed a habit of ensuring every feature and every service has a meaning or a dream behind it. If a feature is made for just gaining traffic, and it does not provide value to users, then it will have problems, it won’t last. We think about the meaning behind every detail of everything we do. This is a reason we have been able to make it to this day, and it has helped us make many right decisions.
What is WeChat’s dream? I said it before. From a user standpoint, it is to become the best tool for users. From a platform standpoint, is to create a marketplace that allows value creators to produce value for other users. Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, it seems like we always stand by the egg.If you make something so big that you interfere with users and provide no value, WeChat will limit you; if you’ve just started and aspire to provide value to users, WeChat will support you.
So, we don’t really think about our competitors. WeChat also does not have competition, no need to pair us with competitors. If there is a competitor, it will be ourselves, it will be whether our organization can keep up as time changes.
WeChat is not anxious. No need to say that we are anxious whenever we do something. You don’t have to impose your anxiety on WeChat.
For me, I am very grateful, and I feel I am very lucky. As a product manager I can lead this team that has created a product used by one billion users. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. But, I feel even more lucky that over this process, I have been able to imbue my perspective of the world into the product, making it a part of the product’s value. This is even more rare.
There’s a phrase I like, a line from a movie. I want to use it to conclude today’s speech.
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” Many people know this phrase. I often think if WeChat can’t give our users even a little bit of hope, then we can’t judge whether what we are doing is right or wrong. So, this is also how we measure ourselves.
WeChat is celebrated it’s 8th anniversary this month. Every day over one billion people log in to WeChat as it delivers seamless communications service and provides new ways to share and connect with friends.
Download the latest version, WeChat v7.0 for Android and iOS now and try out all these new features:
Redesigned Look & Feel
“Wow” Feature in Top Stories
1. Redesigned Look & Feel
WeChat has been redesigned to be lighter and brighter so you can concentrate on the messages and features that are important to you. Aside from a lighter colored WeChat logo (above), we’ve redesigned the icons for all of WeChat’s features, changed to a simpler and lighter color palette, and adjusted the spacing for things like chat bubbles and menus to make WeChat easier to read.
2. Time Capsule
Sharing your life with your phone’s camera has never been so easy. Just go to “Me” and tap the camera icon in the upper-right corner to add to your Time Capsule. Use your camera to capture your pet’s tricks, an awesome basketball shot, or any of life’s little tidbits. After recording a video, you can decorate it with text, stickers, or even background music.
Once your Time Capsule video is completed, it can be viewed for 24 hours by your friends. Likewise, you can find your friends’ recent videos when you see a “blue circle“ next to their profile photos in chats. Double-tap their profile photo to view their Time Capsule videos.
As you collect these videos over time, you’ll be able to revisit old memories by going to “Me“ -> “My Posts“ -> and tapping “Time Capsule“ to see the old Time Capsule videos that you captured. These old posts are only visible to you.
3. Chat Alerts
This new feature ensures you know when you receive that important message from your friend, significant other, or business associate when time is of the essence. If there is a chat that is particularly urgent, you may configure a Chat Alert by tapping the “…” menu in the upper-right corner of the chat screen and enabling “Chat Alert“. For the next three hours, you will receive a special alert when you next receive a message in this chat. Your phone will vibrate and a fullscreen alert will notify you of your new importantmessage.
Use Chat Alerts to make sure that urgent messages receive your special attention.
4. Selfie Stickers
In WeChat v6.7.4, we launched Selfie Stickers as a way to express your inner emotions in a fun and colorful way. Users responded by creating millions of their own, customized stickers. Due to popular demand, we’ve made it easier to find Selfie Stickers. Just tap the “Stickers“ button in the chat bar and tap the “Selfie Stickers“ tab in the stickers bar.
Create your own stickers and share a laugh with your friends as you chat away.
5. “Wow” Feature in Top Stories (available in select regions)
As part of the WeChat’s Official Accounts platform, Subscription Accounts allow media, brands, and individual authors to connect and share news, updates, and posts with a vast base of readers. When reading an article by a Subscription Account, you can now tap the 好看 (“Wow“) button (formerly “Like”) at the bottom of the article to express your appreciation. This will automatically result in the article being shared to your friends via the new “Wow” feature.
Within Top Stories, we’ve added a “Wow” tab that allows you to view each day’s articles shared by friends when they similarly tapped the 好看 (“Wow“) button. As Top Stories is only available in limited regions, you may have to enable the feature first by going to “Me“–> “Settings”–> “General“–> “Manage Discover“. After enabling, you will find on the Discover screen the “Top Stories“ entry, which you can tap and enter to see the new “Wow” tab.
“Wow” makes sharing news and articles easier and more social.
WeChat v7.0 brings a whole new level of convenience and sharing to your phone. Download and try it now from the App Store or Google Play!
Stickers are already a great way to express your inner emotions in a fun and colorful way. Selfie Stickers take stickers to a whole new level by adding YOU into your stickers. Try them out by tapping the “stickers” button at the bottom of a chat screen, tapping the “heart” symbol in the tray, and selecting the “selfie sticker” option.
Tap the camera button to take a selfie photo or hold it to record a selfie video. Be sure to make a funny face!
Decorate your sticker with a caption or even add another one of your favorite stickers to your selfie sticker.
Your new selfie sticker will be added to your favorite stickers collection so you can use them to get a laugh from your friends and family. Selfie Stickers are a new way to make your sticker communications more fun and personal!
Add a new line to your messages
Sometimes a single line is not enough when writing out a message to your friends. We’ve made it more convenient for you to format your messages. When typing out a message, long press the input bar and a menu will appear with a “New Line” option. Select this option to provide a line break in your message and continue tapping.
This option helps you to better format your messages.
Various other improvements have been added with this new version including better compatibility with the most recently released iOS devices including the iPhone Xr, Xs, and Xs Max, so be sure to download the latest update to WeChat for iOS today!
Download and install the latest version of WeChat version 6.6.7 for iOS and check out the latest features.
Float a web page window
When reading an Official Account article or viewing a web page, swipe and hold right and a small “Float window” area will appear in the lower right corner. Drag and release to this corner and your web page will be minimized to a small, floating icon so that you can continue to use other parts of WeChat and return to reading your web page later.
Use “Scan” to translate English to-and-from Chinese
Go to the “Discover” tab and select “Scan” and a new “Translate” option is offered. Place text such as from a menu or a newspaper in screen and tap the camera button and it will automatically translate the text. This is a great option for when you’re traveling or on-the-go.
This feature converts English to Chinese or Chinese to English and we hope to add additional languages over time.
Voice Input now supports English, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese Chinese
Want to send a message while on-the-go or when it’s inconvenient to type a message out? Within a chat, tap the “+” button, select “Voice Input” and start speaking your message to have it automatically converted to text. Now, “Voice Input” supports English, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese Chinese making it even easier for you send messages to your friends around-the-world.
Spring time has arrived and a new version of WeChat for iOS brings a useful new feature.
Share your life’s favorites memories to your friends by posting your photos to Moments. In the latest version of WeChat, if you need more time to assemble your Moments post, you can tap “Cancel” in the Edit screen and select to save a draft of your Moments. This allows you to continue to browse your Moments or check your chat messages and return to your draft later.
Download the latest version of WeChat for iOS from the App Store.
WeChat is more than just a chat app. Now, WeChat can help you on your travels around Europe! WeChat and the Netherlands Royal Communications Group (KPN) launched WeChat Go “Europe Experience” Mini Program in late March.
This Mini Program follows the cooperation between WeChat Go and KPN in July 2017 where a KPN WeChat Go SIM card was launched offering coverage in over 32 European territories. The WeChat Go “Europe Experience” Mini Program has launched for six of the most popular travel destinations in its first phase: Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Rome, London and Barcelona. It’s a one-stop platform for tourists to obtain detailed information about these six cities, including tourist attractions, culinary delights, and shopping.
Not only does it offer details such as opening hours and location descriptions, the Mini Program also allows users to purchase tickets for popular places and receive promotional discount vouchers for local vendors.
These are among the latest steps that WeChat has taken to establish a comprehensive travel experience for Chinese outbound tourists. Following in the footsteps of its collaboration with KPN, WeChat is also now looking to upgrading users’ experiences in United States and Southeast Asia and open more opportunities with overseas business partners.
With all of these new features constantly being rolled out, it is clear that WeChat is increasingly becoming more than just an app. It’s a lifestyle.
English Voice Input: English and other non-Chinese interface users can speak and have their English speech automatically converted into a text message
Login Manager: Conveniently switch between different WeChat accounts
“Discover” tab management: Show or hide features shown via the “Discover” tab
File size limit raised: Now send files in chats up to 100MB in file size
Animated GIFs support in Favorites: Animated GIFs saved to Favorites will display as animated
1. English Voice Input
English and other non-Chinese interface users can now use “Voice Input” from within the chat “+” menu to send text messages. Voice input allows users to speak into WeChat in English and immediately convert their words to text so you can send a text message instead of a voice message.
As shown below, tap on “Voice Input” and a “Hold to Talk” button will appear.
Press and hold the “Hold to Talk” button and begin speaking your message and you’ll see the converted text appear on-screen in realtime. Once your done speaking, you can check and edit you message as necessary before sending the text to your friend. This not only saves time, but is also a convenient way to text long messages or to send text messages when on-the-go.
2. Login Manager
Do you frequently switch two different WeChat accounts on the same device. Now you can use Login Manager by going to “Me” > “Settings” > ”Login Manager” to easily switch to another account. You will be logged out of your current account (meaning that you will no longer receive system notifications when you receive a message on the prior account) and logged in to the new account.
Tap the “+” button and enter your login credentials to log in your second WeChat account. After logging in to your second account, return to this screen by going to “Me” > “Settings” > “Login Manager” again to easily switch back to your original account. For your account’s safety, you’ll need to verify your identity by entering a password, SMS confirmation code, or Voiceprint verification each time you switch between accounts. You can also tap “Edit Accounts…” to remove an account from the Login Manager screen.
3. “Discover” tab management
At WeChat, we work hard to bring you innovative, new features that enrich your app experience. In order to make the WeChat experience more suitable for all users, we’ve added the ability for you to show or hide features that appear in your WeChat “Discover” tab.
Go to “Me” > “Settings” > “General” > “Manage Discover” and you will have the option to show or hide the various optional features displayed within your “Discover” tab.
4. File size limit raised: Now send files in chats up to 100MB in file size
Share files up to 100 MB in size when sending from WeChat’s mobile app . On iOS, a “Files” button has been added to the “+” menu in chats which allows you to select a file from iOS “Files”.
5. Animated GIFs saved to Favorites will be animated as well
Animated GIFs saved to Favorites will display animated. Previously, saved GIFs would only show the first frame of the animation, but now you can have the whole animated experience within Favorites.
As seen below, adda GIF image from your Photos Album to your Favorites.
Once saved to Favorites, the GIF image will be shown animated.
The WeChat Team has just released WeChat version 6.6 for iOS and it contains two feature enhancements:
Notes in Favorites can be saved as an image, making it easier to share them to Moments or chats
After recalling a message, just tap a link to quickly edit the recalled message
1. Notes in Favorites can be saved as an image, making it easier to share them to Moments or chats
WeChat has made it easier for you to share the notes that you’ve saved to Favorites to Moments and chats. Now you can tap the upper-right corner menu and select “Save as Image” to save your entire note as a single image. Post the entire image as a Moments post or to a chat.
Alternatively, now you can choose to share the note directly to Moments. From the upper-right corner menu select “Share on Moments” and your note will be shared to your friends.
2. After recalling a message, just tap a link to quickly edit the recalled message
Sent a message with a typo? Recall the message, reuse the old content to edit your message and send! When you recall a message in version 6.6, a Re-edit link will appear next to “You’ve recalled a message”. When you tap on the Re-edit link, the message input box will contain the recalled text. Now you can easily modify your original message to correct the typo and send again.