WeChat Is Building An Augmented Reality App Store

Matthew Brennan Features

2 days ago an official video from WeChat team entitled “微信小程序:WeChat Mini Program” was uploaded to Tencent video platform with no announcement or fanfare. However the ending of the video hints at something absolutely huge: WeChat will release a truly game changing new augmented reality feature for mini programs.

mini programs augmented reality

WeChat Pokemon Go for apps!

Video Length: 2:31

WeChat mini programs + Augmented Reality

If you don’t know what mini programs are check out our previous articles here, and here. If you don’t know what Pokemon Go is, then what were you doing in 2016?

Rough translation of the video’s Chinese voice over

“Before the first email was sent, no one knew information could be delivered instantly. Before the Web came into being, no one knew the entire world could be reachable through a screen. The evolution of times is accompanied by the changing tools for how human connect to the world. Perhaps, we can expect more for the future.”

Michael Cane WeChat

Above: Michael Cane makes a cameo for WeChat?

“Imagine this, our tools (the software on our phones) and scenarios (where you currently are) becoming fully integrated into one. Only when you need them, they (the software) will appear. This is the philosophy of mini programs.”

WeChat Mini Program Plant Scanner

Above: a WeChat mini program being used to identify a plant type

“Less is more. Let tools (software) regress back to the essence of serving our needs. Our needs will be fulfilled in a lighter and more reasonable way. This is a kind of evolution, as services become unchained. Our needs can be instantly satisfied.”

WeChat Augmented Reality Mini Programs

Above: a glimpse of WeChat’s next big feature?

“This change inspires us to imagine more. Everything will be redefined by thinking about time and space differently. Things are no longer just things, but service portals that lie at our fingertips. Connecting everything, infinite possibilities await. And this future has just begun.”

The signs were there all along

Close followers of China Channel will know that I’ve previously dropped some big hints that something like this was in the pipeline. The WeChat Key Trends Report 2017 (delivered in Paris March 1st) made it clear that the future direction of WeChat mini programs would be heavily influenced by Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go For Chinese Internet

WeChat’s parent company Tencent is the world’s largest gaming company. There is absolutely no way that the huge success of Pokemon Go would not have had some impact on their strategy for mini programs.

Pokemon Go Was Different

Above: slides from WeChat Key Trends Report 2017

Conclusion

WeChat mini programs were launched on the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone. On that day WeChat founder Allen Zhang posted this on his moments:

Allen Zhang Mini Programs Launch Date

Tencent are tired of playing in Apple’s garden. The time is coming for WeChat to break out and reimagine the internet for China. 2017 is looking like it will be a big year.