China | Miniapps – the next weapon in WeChat's expansion bid
China's most popular social app is on the rise. Photo: Álvaro Ibáñez
China's most popular social app is on the rise. Photo: Álvaro Ibáñez

Miniapps – the next weapon in WeChat’s expansion bid

The popular China mobile application wants to wipe out the need to download an app by introducing a new function that will go online on January 9

January 6, 2017 4:51 PM (UTC+8)

WeChat has acted as many people’s Facebook, wallets and even travel agents and now the company now is introducing a new tool that will simply wipe out the necessity to download an app.

The popular all-in-one communication mobile application will launch Miniapps on January 9, Zhang Xiaolong, president of the WeChat Group and a senior executive vice-president at the parent Tencent Holdings Ltd, announced at the 2017 WeChat Open Class Pro Edition held in China’s southern city of Guangzhou, on December 28, 2016.

Users can access Miniapps by scanning QR codes to enjoy services an ordinary app provides, and skip the installation process. The new function would not occupy any storage space in mobile phones.

“WeChat aims to help users finish their task in the most efficient way,” Zhang said. “Once users finish their task, they should hop on to other things, but not keep the app.”

Diners can simply scan a QR code to start the MiniApp at a restaurant to order food, without downloading an app, Zhang used this as an example to explain his “use-and-go” concept. “I think this is a very big breakthrough for the existing applications,” Zhang said.

WeChat started to send out beta invites to developers in September last year. Below is a 6-second sneak peek of the Miniapps interface uploaded to a Chinese video-sharing website back then.

Miniapps will save costs for developers, Chinese finance weekly Caixin reported, citing people who tried the beta version, as programmers do not need to work on separate versions of an app for iOS and Android, the two dominant but different operating systems for mobile devices.

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