By 7 August 2013 | Categories: news


In the one corner, we have a well established, heavyweight messaging app with an abundance of adopters, WhatsApp, and in the other, the (relatively new) underdog and claimant to the title, WeChat.

What both have in common, at least this week, is that each have rolled out their big guns, also known as feature updates. First up is WeChat (because Rocky 1, 2 and yes, even Rocky 3 schooled us in the nobility of the underdog).

In the red corner…

WeChat’s latest version 5.0 introduces a new sticker shop to the app, which allows users to download and pay for stickers from within the app. Additionally, and for those less inclined to pay money for virtual goods, the app also flexed its muscles with the new Hold Together feature.

This joins the other location based functionality, Shake and Look Around (now renamed People Nearby) by enabling WeChat users who are in the same vicinity to locate each other and connect by tapping their screens.   

The update is also aimed at making it easier to add friends to one’s contacts list with an upgraded Adding Contacts function, while a refined Quick Entry for the group chat feature offers easier communication with one’s friends.

Furthermore, the update offers easier web page sharing via Facebook for those users who have linked their Facebook account to their WeChat profile, while a new ‘Save Messages’ function allows users to keep text, voice messages and photos of sentimental value.  

And in the blue corner…

On the opposing side of the ring we then have the 300 million fan strong titan, WhatsApp, similarly showing off the new move it has added to its repertoire. This comes in the form of Voice Messages, which allows users to instantly speak to a contact or group.

Messages can be recorded by accessing the microphone icon and then recording one’s message prior to sending it. Receiving a recorded voice message is as straightforward, accessed by pressing the play button. Then, the microphone icon next to a contact’s name will turn blue when the message has been listened to, showing at a glance which voice messages still need attention. According to WhatsApp, all Voice Messages are downloaded automatically.

Additionally, message playback will automatically switch between the phone’s speakers and its earpiece, based on whether you raise your device to your ear, in case you are one of those quaint individuals who still values privacy and doesn’t need everyone in the room or in a crowded lift to hear your significant other’s terms of endearments.

As befitting a mobile chat celebrity, the new feature is available across all of the platforms on which WhatsApp can be found, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Symbian.    

To the point

For its part, WeChat 5.0 for iOS is now available, although the latest version will apparently only be gracing the Android circuit at a later date.

While WeChat may only be able to lay claim to a fraction of the WhatsApp user base, apparently its popularity is growing, according to the company, as it recently passed the 70 million registered user accounts mark globally.

Whether its new features are enough to sway WhatsApp users to the WeChat fold and have them cheering for it to win the knockout, this is not yet certain. However, in the social mobile messaging arena, so long as all contenders keep enriching their products, it certainly seems as if it is end users who will be the ultimate winners.


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