In last couple of years, Short Messaging System has been completely taken over by networking apps like WhatsApp because of its nice features including unlimited Text Message, sending Audio / Video and Picture files. It also allows you to create groups and all these are free of cost and works on your 2G network. But now, there is a similar type of App that is taking over the market quickly. I am talking about WeChat which was first launched in January 2011. Surprised? Even I was surprised to know that such useful app was launched about 2.5 years ago but we were not aware of the same. WeChat also allows you to do unlimited text messaging, voice messaging and much more. However, as there are already several Mobile messengers available today including Nimbuzz, E-buddy, WhatsApp, etc; any idea why people started switching to WeChat or why people prefer using WeChat over such well known Messengers? Let’s find out the same in this detailed review of WeChat.
Performance and User Interface:
The home screen of WeChat is very clean and clear. After logging in (first login) to the application you will see the list of messages send by your contacts. The functionality of WeChat is very similar to WhatsApp. You don’t need to add contacts manually like we do in Nimbuzz or any other similar messengers; WeChat simply pulls the contacts and Syncs with their Database, just like WhatsApp, and provides you list of contacts using WeChat. You just need to tap and start chatting. The home screen interface may differ from device to device. For example, you get different user interface on Nokia Symbian Mobiles or on Blackberry devices. Similarly it differs from iOS, to Android to Windows Phones. Yes, WeChat is available for all major smartphone platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and BlackBerry OS. We are testing it on an Android Smartphone.
As far as performance is concerned, the application is very light. No matter you are using a high end smartphone like Galaxy Note or a mid ranged phone like Iris 455; WeChat is fully compatible with all devices and performs well. We tried running the app on several devices but didn’t face any problem. The best part I loved about WeChat is its Video calls functionality. If you have noticed on several smartphones and tablets Skype still does supports Video calling, but with this small application you can still do video calls with your colleagues who are using basic Android phones. We will talk more about Video calls later in this review.
WeChat offers you several new features like Live Chat Session, direct Voice Chat, and new ways of finding/adding new friends who are not in your Address Book. Let us checkout all these new features in details.
Chatting and in Different Styles:
This is what makes me to use WeChat over other messengers. The applications allow you to chat either via sending Text Messages or by Voice. You know how to text, right? For sending Voice messages just press and hold the “Hold to Talk” button, speak up your message and leave the button. That’s it. Message is sent right away. This is very different from sending voice message where you first record message, save it on your phone then attach it with other messengers and send. You can also attach images and video files to your message. All these works fine on 2G network as well.
Live Chat Session:
One another interesting feature WeChat offers is a “Live Chat Session”. Using this mode you can chat with your friend live without sending a message and waiting for his reply.
This is what I was talking about, Video Calls. So far Skype was the most used application for making video calls on Smartphones but only on the condition that you must have your friend in your contact list and most important his/her device should support Skype video calling because still there are several smartphones that are not compatible for Video calling, even though supporting Skype. Using WeChat you can still make Video calls to those friends and chat comfortably. The only drawback is, in order to make Video calls you and your friend must be either on 3G or WiFi network. It won’t work on 2G network; you can see the screenshot below.
WeChat offers several fun stuffs such as Emoticons including the animated Stickers making your chat more interesting. When you tap the plus button from the chat screen, you get several more options like sharing your location, send Name Card, etc. These are some kind of tools that make your chatting experience much better. You can also download and add more such tools from their server.
WeChat also allows you to broadcast messages to several contacts at the same time. This is very secure and except you, it won’t disclose the user about how many contacts have received the message.
If we compare WeChat with WhatsApp, the only way to add new contacts in WhatsApp is by adding their Mobile Number in our address book. But in WeChat we have several ways to add contact, such as Add by ID, Scan QR Code, Mobile Contacts and Official Accounts. Let’s see how do all these features work. Whenever anyone installs WeChat, the application offers you to either register with phone number (Similar to WhatsApp) or by creating a new ID. This ID is the unique mixture of Alphabets and numbers. The ID is very useful because if you have a friend whose number is not stored on your mobile and you want to add him to your WeChat contact, than you can simply add him using his ID.
Second is the Scan QR Codes option. This is yet another useful method for adding contacts on WeChat. When you create your profile on WeChat, you can generate your own QR Code that will include your wechat ID and other information required to add a friend. This can also be saved on your phone so that you can send it to your colleagues or you can also share it on Facebook. So if you have any of your friend’s QR code, you can simply add him in your contacts list by scanning his/her QR Code. And yeah, you can also change your QR Codes style to look attractive.
Now comes the Mobile Contact option. This is the most simple and well known method. You just have add/save the Phone number in your mobile’s address book and if the guy is using WeChat, he will automatically appear in your application’s contact list. And the last one is Official Accounts. Here you can search any company or brand like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc, and follow them.
Searching new Friends:
We got some unique and interesting way of finding new friends on WeChat. We get two new ways named as “Shake” and “Look Around”. I don’t know how it works but searching friend with this application is very exciting.
If you are looking for new friends, just launch WeChat and tap on Social from bottom bar. Here tap on Shake. On the next screen you need to hold the phone tight and shake the phone for 1 to 2 seconds. Application with search for other people who were shaking their phones on the same time and the list will be displayed on your phone. Sounds funny but it’s interesting. You get a new list every time you shake your phone. Tap any contact and send them greeting. If they accept then you can add them as friend.
When you tap on “Look Around” the application searches for all WeChat users around you and display them in a list with their name, profile and distance within the range they are from you. You can further filter this list in Male and Female only, depending on your preference.
Look Around feature also shows you nearby chat rooms where a number of unknown people can chat to each other. You don’t need any permission to join these chat rooms. You can see the members active in this chat room by tapping the Contact button on the top right. All these members are from your nearby location itself.
This is yet another style of getting connected with the world. When you tap on Drift Bottle option you will have a bottle, a Flash light and a bucket of bottle. You need to tap on bottle and speak something through it. I don’t know how does it works but I received some messages from unknown guys after throwing some bottles.
When you go in Settings and tap on Features, you will find all these features in a list. If you don’t want to use any of this application, you can simply disable them so that they won’t interfere in your preference. For example, I didn’t find the Drift Bottle and QQ Contacts so useful, hence I simply disabled them as you can see in the image below. This is not at all risky because if you need them in future you can simply enable them back in seconds.
Under Settings section, you get every option from your Profile to your Privacy. You can create your profile attractive with as much details as you want, you can link your Facebook account, change chat backgrounds, change font size, notification style, backup or clear chat history and most importantly, your Privacy as well. Everything is very simple for which you don’t require any extra skills.
With so many features and enhancement WeChat also takes care of your Privacy. And most importantly they have provided a separate section for Privacy from where you can control each and everything from blocking a person to hiding all your details to unknown contacts. If you don’t want other people to see you in Look Around or by phone number or even by WeChat ID, you can configure you settings so that apart from the contacts saved in your phone no one else will be able to see you on WeChat, that means nobody will be able to send you messages on WeChat, like they do in WhatsApp. There is also an option called “Friend Verification” and if it is set to disabled, then even though people can see you but they cannot send you any messages apart from greetings unless you verify them. Apart from these, as mentioned above, you can disabled any feature like Look Around, Shake or Drift Bottle that will also hide you from other people. WeChat takes care of all your privacy stuffs comfortably.
If you love to make new friends or got bored of older Messengers, WeChat is the best choice as of now with so many unique and interesting features. It is also very useful since it allows you three way to chat in one applications including Text, Voice and Video call. Voice chat is helpful for those who hate typing. WeChat is also a good replacement for Skype in terms of Video calling on low end devices. You can make video calls to your buddies on basic smartphone where Skype is not compatible. However the only drawback of this app is you require Wi-Fi or 3G connection for making video calls while all other Features work fine even on 2G networks.
- Vast features
- Different styles of messaging like Voice Chat and Video Calls.
- Several ways to find new friend
- Better Privacy options
- Video calls won’t work on 2G