It’s been a big news day for all things Apple, and a lot of the buzz has been around the company’s renewed focus on American manufacturing. But one feature announced today in Apple’s new iOS 7 mobile operating system shows that Apple’s dedication to China — and specifically, the market of Chinese iPhone users which is growing at a “mind-boggling” rate — is only getting stronger.
Apple said today that a host of new features will be included in iOS 7 that should make the mobile operating system even more useful for the Chinese market, including a Chinese/English bilingual dictionary and handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters. But possibly the most significant bit of news in terms of iOS 7 and China is that Tencent Weibo, the microblogging site that essentially functions as a Twitter focused on the Chinese market, will be “supported” in iOS 7.
The integration received just a short mention in Apple’s official iOS 7 announcement, so the extent of the support is not yet clear. But the fact that the service has been accounted for at all puts it in an elite group of third party players given priority on Apple’s mobile operating system — most notably Twitter, which was integrated into iOS 5 back in 2011 (and subsequently saw a huge bump in new user registrations), and Facebook, which was integrated into iOS 6 last year.
Tencent Weibo’s competitor, Chinese social networking giant Sina Weibo, was integrated into iOS 6 last year. Both platforms are massive, with user bases that reportedly exceed 500 million. It will be interesting to see what effect this has Tencent Weibo’s growth going forward.