Leaked: WeChat’s Plans for 2016

Matthew Brennan Article from other sources, Features

WeChat 2016: A few days ago an article was published on WeChat which claimed to be a leaked internal plan for WeChat’s new features releases in 2016. The article generated much speculation and discussion. Are these really the changes we can expect WeChat to make in 2016? Below we present our translated version of the original (source: 微互动 We-Interactive) with our ratings on the likelihood of WeChat actually introducing each of the new features in 2016.

Classified

New Features for WeChat 2016

WeChat Moments

1: Post Gifs & Audio

No longer will we be limited to just photos, short 6 second videos or text; WeChat plans to open up moments to other forms of media. Send forth the party gifs!

Time-to-Party

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 2/5

ChCh’s view: Why wait till 2016? WeChat could have introduced these rather obvious and easy to develop features a long time ago if they were inclined to do so.

2: Categorized Moments

For those very active users of WeChat (i.e. most people in Chinese tier 1 cities) viewing moments when you have several hundred, often thousands, of contacts can take a considerable time. Busy networkers with the most contacts are exactly those people who have the least time. Fear not! 2016 will see WeChat allow us to view our moments by different groups of people that we have added under the same tag (e.g. friends, work, family).

Moments

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 4/5

ChCh’s view: This is real pain point for many people using WeChat. Ask anyone who has 1000+ contacts how long it takes to scroll through them each day. WeChat already allows us to filter who sees our moments posts via tagging (see pic below). Adding the option to also use tags to quickly see moments from only those tagged as our family members makes a lot of sense.

3: Moments Timeline

When checking someone’s (or your own) WeChat moments from their individual profile a timeline will be added to help skip quickly to a previous year or month (similar to QQ Zone or Facebook).

Timeline

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 5/5

ChCh’s view: This solves another very obvious pain point for WeChat users. Moments for many people has become their diary for life, yet for those who post often scrolling back to find a picture from two years ago is currently a VERY frustrating experience.

4: ‘Dislike’ button

No longer will you be limited to only being able to ‘like’ or comment on others posts anymore. Once a post collects enough ‘Dislikes’, it will no longer display on other people’s moments. This could be especially useful for removing all those thinly veiled adverts from contacts try to promote their businesses or sell you things.

like

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 1/5

ChCh’s view: We just can’t see this fitting culturally in China at all.

5: Featured Reading

Similar to how adverts now appear in our moments feed. Popular WeChat articles will also start to appear. Articles suggested to us will be based on the huge amount of data that WeChat has access to on our reading habits. Also similar to adverts, there will be an option box for users to indicate they no longer wish to view suggestions for this type of article.

recommend

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 1/5

ChCh’s view: While WeChat did put in place several changes in 2015 to encourage high quality original article content, we seriously doubt they will start pushing article recommendations into people’s moments.

6: Location Based Adverts

Advertising on WeChat moments is currently prohibitively expensive for most small businesses. Compared with Facebook ads the targeting is also very poor. 2016 will see WeChat play catch up with the minimum buy in price dropping significantly to around 50,000 RMB (around $7,600) and options to target by location. This means for example we could be much more likely to see an advert featuring a coupon for Starbucks appear if we post on our moments from a location near one of their stores.

Starbucks

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 5/5

ChCh’s view: WeChat have made it very clear they want to catch up with Facebook in the amount of money they generate through adverts. Location based advertising plus more affordable options for small businesses seem like obvious ways to help achieve that.

 

New Features for WeChat 2016

WeChat Groups

1: Interactive Games

In order to make group chats more interactive, WeChat plans to add an extra game button in group chats allowing the group’s members to compete against each other. A more advanced version of the ‘paper, siccors, rock’ and dice rolling options that are available under stickers.

gamepng

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 3/5

ChCh’s view: It’s very possible that WeChat could introduce some form of light gaming into groups. Especially if the games are set up to drive more small money peer to peer transactions in the same way that Lucky money red envelopes did.

2: Multiple Leaders / Chat Muting

WeChat will expand the number of people who can administer a group from 1 to 3, making group management more effective.

admins

What’s more group leaders will soon be able to mute everyone else in the entire group chat muting, so only the group manager can send messages. This could be useful during WeChat group lectures or for groups used primarily for broadcasting information 1 way.

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 3/5

ChCh’s view: We’re kind of split on this one. Introducing extra (likely 2nd level) group administrators does seem to be a good way of making groups more manageable. Whereas muting the entire group so 1 person can exclusively send messages seems like overkill to us.

3: Personalized Group Icons

More and more groups are flooding people’s WeChat timelines. To make matters worse all groups share the same 9 square mini grid of group members’ profile pics which basically all look the same. In 2016 WeChat will allow you to set your own personalized icons for group chats in your chat timeline.

groups

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 5/5

ChCh’s view: We love this idea! Please WeChat, introduce ASAP.

 

New Features for WeChat 2016

Others

1: Office Document Editing

Currently for office documents WeChat only support to preview, download and forwarding. Opening and editing the document must be done through a 3rd party app or using a dedicated service provided through a WeChat official account (read our our previous article) In 2016 editing of word or excel directly within WeChat will become a basic inbuilt feature.

SCREEN

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 1/5

ChCh’s view: Have you tried editing an excel document through an iphone 5’s screen?

2: Picture Recognition

In WeChat groups we can long press pictures for further options to appear (Currently: forward, favorite, delete, more…). Later in 2016 ‘recognize’ will be added to this list. By selecting ‘recognize’ WeChat will scan the picture and then direct us to a page to buy the object in the picture, assuming its for sale somewhere on a Tencent friendly e-commerce platform (e.g. Weidian or Jingdong).

recognize

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 5/5

ChCh’s view: Any update that helps drive social commerce and build up sales on Jingdong to rival Taobao / Tmall is going to be high on the list of WeChat’s priorities in 2016. Also worth noting that the inbuilt WeChat scan feature already has something similar to this for book covers (see our article here).

3: Opening Up WeChat Search

Search on WeChat improved a lot in 2015, but by opening up WeChat search to more sources outside of WeChat and adding more social related search results (auto suggestions based on your friend’s activity). WeChat can potentially come to dominate mobile search in the same way Baidu does in China.

Search

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 4/5

ChCh’s view: More social related search results: absolutely, it’s already happening (see example below). Opening up to include more search results from outside of the WeChat: possible, but could have detrimental effects on the WeChat official account system for businesses.

original

4: Sight Filters

2016 will see WeChat sights will introduce Instagram type filters to beautify all those lovely short videos of yours.

SightsFilters

Likelihood of Actually Appearing on WeChat: 0/5

ChCh’s view: We have been assured by reliable sources within the WeChat team that this one is complete BS and will never happen.

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