WeChat’s been testing WeChat Mini Apps (mini programs) for a while, a new ecosystem for creating light apps on top of WeChat; it’s expected to launch on 9 January 2016.
WeChat is positioned as a tool instead of a platform according to Zhang Xiaolong, who invented WeChat. An important feature of this “tool” is to improve efficiency and expects users to use it and leave.
WeChat Mini Apps are light programs that do not require download or installation; users can access the apps anytime and anywhere. Users can scan a QR code to launch and use the application although search capability is added but limited. Users can simply leave the application after use without the need to uninstall.
WeChat Mini Apps can not be used to design mobile gaming apps.
Social Sharing of WeChat Mini Apps
Moments is the center of WeChat social networking activities. However, Mini Apps can NOT be shared in WeChat Moments but only WeChat chats and groups. The design purpose of the sharing feature is mainly for collaborations.
The sharing feature is on a page level. That means a user can share the app and a specific information from the app to the WeChat Groups.
How does Mini App differ from Official Accounts?
WeChat Official Account is based on subscription and updates push. The focus of businesses’ official accounts is to grow subscribers and followers and keep them engaged via daily or weekly updates. Users must subscribe to obtain the content or application from official accounts. Based on WeChat shared information, users just need to scan the QR code to launch any WeChat Mini App without any more actions required.
Users of any WeChat Official Accounts are their followers and fans; but, this relationship does not exist between users and WeChat Mini Apps.
Once users follow a WeChat Official Account, they will receive push notifications of updates. But, this type of “push” notification is not enabled upon Mini Apps access. If the user performs a specific action inside Mini Apps, app owners can send notifications to the user via the Mini Apps.
WeChat has designed connections between this two types of systems. Users of an Official Account are able to see and access the available Mini Apps designed by the same company.
The key differences between WeChat Mini Apps and mobile apps.
As mentioned just now, the use of WeChat Mini Apps do not require download or installation; and, users can simply leave it without the need to uninstall them as they do with mobile apps.
A central location with all WeChat Mini Apps, like a mobile app store, does not exist. A user can not locate any Mini Apps on WeChat unless he launched the apps before. And, 2D code is the entry point of users to WeChat Mini Apps.
Mini Apps are more efficient for users and more cost efficient (about 20% of the development cost of mobile apps) for businesses with limited capability compared with native mobile apps.
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