(This is a guest post by Dwayne who writes for Technogravy – The latest in gadgets, tech, gaming, and all that fun stuff…)
In the crowded space for Social Messaging applications, it’s hard to imagine making the shift from our existing favorites to something new. But then there is always scope for improvement, and the question “Can it do it all?” is still out there. How often have we texted a friend on our “favorite” messaging application, only to ask them to come online on our “favorite” video call application? Well, WeChat attempts to bridge that gap, creating an integrated solution for all your social interactions (well almost), be it Video Calls, Texting, Voice Messaging, Media Sharing, etc. and it does some of them very well, but does it have what it takes to make you (and your chunky friend-lists) make the shift? Read on to find out.
The app setup is quite easy, and uses your phone no. to login. It scans your address book and gives you friend suggestions rather than adding them automatically, a welcome feature. It also creates a fancy QR code with your user id, for your friends to add you with.
Functionality and Features (Rating – 4 / 5) –
Here’s where this app stands apart from the crowd, it offers features most others don’t. The unique Voice Messaging feature works flawlessly, and brings a refreshing change to the otherwise boring text based chat, add this to a Group Chat and it has all the ingredients to make for an entertaining interaction. ) In my experience, the Voice message delivery was instant and audio quality was clear.
Connecting a Video Call was quick and easy (tested on both WiFi and 3G) & once connected Video quality was very good, offering a nice full screen view, however the audio seemed very slightly out of sync & since this was one of the recently added features I can only expect it to get better from here. The inclusion of an ‘in-call’ toggle for changing from Voice to Video call is a useful feature and worked very well. The Audio Call quality was exceptional and one of the best I’ve experienced, there seemed to be no voice-lag and audio delivery was instant.
The Media Sharing feature allows, media to be shared instantly, and works as well as the best out there. Video and Image transfer was quick, and sharing media is easy clicking a button. It also allows you to convert images to Emoticons and offers a wide range of smiley’s with Emoji support as well as preset emoji-art templates.
Text-Messaging worked well and message delivery is instant, although a few features that I missed were the delivery/read notifications, time-stamps for messages, ability to change notification tones, and prevent notifications when the app is open. I’d have expected most of these to exist on an app that performs so well in other aspects, and these alone keep this app from getting a 5/5 in terms of Features and Functionality.
A few other notable features include a Facebook timeline like ‘Moments’ section, a Shake-to-add contacts around you, as well as a look around feature that finds people near you using the application.
Design and User-Interface (Rating – 2 / 5)
Here is where the app need to improve, I used the Android version of the app, but it seemed too iOS-like for my liking. All the animations, pop-up’s, transitions looked like they’ve been designed only with Apple’s product-line in mind. The interface seems very dated, and lacks that refreshing look most other Android applications have. I hope the developers take note of this and work toward redesigning the app for each specific OS, because this seemed to be the only major downside of an otherwise great experience I had with the app. That said, the interface is very usable and smooth, with no lag or stutter on the animations or while loading.
Verdict (Overall Rating – 3 / 5)
WeChat has alot of good features and delivers on most fronts, making it a good solution for several Social Messaging needs. The Video Call performance and Voice Messaging functionality were what impressed me the most. But for an Android fan, its hard to look past the iPhone like user interface, which is however, a matter of preference and alot of users may not find it too bad. I’d definitely recommend giving this one a try.
- Setup is easy and quick
- Uses friend requests & does not auto add contacts
- ‘Hold-to-talk’ Audio Messaging is a nice feature and worked flawlessly
- Video Call clarity one of the best out there
- iPhone like UI
- Occasionally noticed notifications in Chinese.
- No timestamps, delivery notifications & read reports
- Limited customization
Read enough? Download WeChat here for free.
*Application reviewed on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus & Galaxy S2, both running Android 4.1.
(This review is written as part of the Product Reviews program at BlogAdda)