Amid Messaging Mania, WeChat Releases Major Upgrade, Adds New Features

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With the messaging app space suddenly running hot after the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp, you can bet the other big messaging platforms are playing close attention to their products. And sure enough, WeChat has just done a major upgrade for both iOS and Android.

Version 5.2.0.17 now includes:

- Real-time location sharing with walkie-talkie
– Universal search including chat history search
– Receive a special notification if you’re mentioned in a group chat
– Share sticker sets with friends
– “Better image browsing in chats”
– Calls “connect more reliably and video and audio quality is improved”

The Android version also received a facelift with some UI improvements and a new Friend Radar feature similar to the older Look Around feature, which connects you to people using WeChat nearby. Like the iOS version, it also includes real-time location sharing. As with WhatsApp, users now have a photo album feature for group chats, with pictures shared with your friends being located in one place.

You can also now search through contacts, and it’s possible to display LinkedIn information on user accounts.

With WhatsApp launching voice messaging in Q2 this year, and Facebook Messenger and Viber also having voice functionality in some countries, it would appear these messaging apps are trying to disrupt not just SMS but voice calling as well.

There is also a chance we will see some consolidation in the market. If you think about it, there are quite a lot of players: WeChat, Line, Viber, Nimbuzz, Tango, KakaoTalk and Kik, to name just the major ones. Then there are new players like Telegram experiencing an uplift.

With WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger not really competing any more (as they are owned by the same company), the others may look to combine their operations perhaps.

That said, there’s no sign just yet that this is about to happen. Meanwhile, Line today announced it’s going to try to compete with Skype.