Just as we’d heard was about to happen, Chinese social media giant Tencent (HKG:0700.HK - News) has renamed its group messaging app, Weixin, as “WeChat” for international users. This comes in a new update to v4.0 for the iOS version - though not yet for Android or other platforms - which also adds support for Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Portuguese. The inclusion of many southeast Asian languages is surely significant, as we’ve heard Tencent execs say that they’re planning to focus on Indonesia, especially in terms of mobile internet.
Other new features in the globally-minded WeChat app include the ability to forward photos from one friend to another, add a star to favourite contacts, add a location to your messages, font size customization, and a streaming photo journal of your day’s highlights. Perhaps more significantly, there’s also the newly-added ‘Circles’ (pictured right) which seems to be copied from Google+ and which Tencent will also bring to its Chinese social networks, such as QQ.
Just last month, Tencent CEO Pony Ma said that Weixin - I mean, WeChat - had passed the 100 million user milestone, which makes it the biggest group messaging app in the world. Though we don’t know how many of those are active users.
WeChat opened up to international users late last year with an English version of the app, and the ability to register with a phone number via SMS in nearly every country. It’s up against the likes of Whatsapp, Korean-made Kakaotalk, and also the Xiaomi-owned Miliao, to name but three of the many group messaging challengers.
Grab the newly-updated WeChat from the iTunes App Store.