WeChat, the most widely used social network app in China, on Monday unveiled its in-WeChat app-like “Mini Program”, as the app expands beyond messaging.
Allen Zhang, the founder of WeChat, posted several photos of Steve Jobs launching the first iPhone on January 9, 2007 ten years ago on his WeChat Moments page today. Though Zhang did not put it in writing, the photos’ significance seem to strongly suggest that today marks a milestone for WeChat with the release of the Mini Program.
Back in September 2016, Zhang explained that the Mini Program spares users the process of downloading apps to use. Instead, they can use these apps by scanning its QR codes or searching them within WeChat’s Mini Program.
AllChinaTech made this step-by-step guide on how to use these lightweight apps on WeChat. Make sure that you have updated your WeChat app to the latest version.
There are several ways to add a friend on WeChat – search WeChat ID, scan the QR Code, or add them from a group chat. Using a Mini Program is similar. You can use it with the following methods:
1. Scan a QR Code. It is worth mentioning that you can not open a Mini Program by doing a long-press and extracting the QR Code, like what can be done for WeChat Subscription Account QR Codes. Below is the QR Code of a Mini Program by Fenda, a Q&A voice app, in case anyone wants to give it a go.
2. Search a Mini Program by its name. So far WeChat only supports searching in Chinese.
3. Open a Mini Program from a chat where a friend has recommended it. You can not share it to your Moments on WeChat.
4. Click the “Mini Program” button for earlier opened ones. There is a Mini Program – under WeChat’s “Discovery” button – which only appear after you have opened one Mini Program.
You can also display it on top of your WeChat so that you can find it easily next time.
All Mini Programs can not be bigger than 1 M in size, as required by WeChat. Therefore, they, like simplified version of apps, offer only core functions. Take Didi Chuxing, China’s No. 1 ride hailing app, for example: its Mini Program only allows users to hail a car, and does not offer the other options from the Didi Chuxing app, like taxis, carpooling, and car rental.
The overall experience of using the Mini Program feels very natural. An article predicted that this will be a large market on WeChat, whose monthly active users reach as many as 806 million, according to its Q2 2016 report.
(Top photo from Pixabay.com)