Everyone who’s been in China more than a few hours knows how essential WeChat is to daily life. From work group chats to paying for goods, the China-based app has ingrained itself into nearly every aspect of society.
But did you know that the app is way more than a platform for funny stickers? We have compiled a list of some lesser known WeChat functions for you to start taking advantage of right away.
1. Compare Prices
With so many convenience stores, malls and online shopping platforms, have you ever wondered whether you’re getting the best deal? Wonder no more! Simply use the Scan QR code function on the barcode of any domestic product to see a quick price comparison.
At our local 7-Eleven, a bottle of Hejiu brand huangjiu cost RMB11. By scanning the barcode, we learned that Yihaodian carries the same product for a mere RMB7.90.
Image via ChinaChannel
2. Quick Pay
Have you ever been at the store and heard something along the lines of ‘Ni sao wo ma?’ and wondered how people could get away with such a seemingly shameless request for sex? To those not adept at Mandarin, the phrase sounds an awful lot like ‘Ni cao wo ma,’ a far cry from its actual meaning: "Will you scan me?"
Through WeChat’s wallet function, you can nearly stop carrying cash altogether as most restaurants and stores accept WeChat as a form of payment. To pay, go to Me > Wallet > Quick Pay.
3. Mobile Account Top Up
Another feature of WeChat Wallet is the mobile account top up, which saves you a mafan trip to China Mobile or China Unicom.
4. Pay Bills
Did you know you can pay bills for electricity, water, heat, telecommunications and internet on WeChat? Disclaimer: You'll have to either know a little bit of Chinese or have a friend who can read characters to access this function.
Go to Me > Wallet > Utilities, and you'll be able to select from a wide range of bill types. If it's your first time paying a bill on WeChat, you'll need to first select your city, and then enter in other details such as the company you're paying and your account number (all of which you can find on your most recent bill). Some companies also let you scan a code to automatically enter in account details.
5. Web WeChat
Ever wanted to chat with your WeChat contacts during the work day but don't have the time to constantly be checking your phone? WeChat allows you to set up a chat window in your browser of choice or as a standalone desktop application.
To add WeChat to your web browser, visit wx.qq.com or web.wechat.com, scan the QR code to sign in, and start chatting with your friends and colleagues directly from your computer. You can also download the WeChat desktop application here.
Both the web and desktop applications also have a File Transfer option enabled, which lets you easily and instantly share documents between your computer and phone. Neat, huh?
6. Edit Aliases
Forget who that contact is whose WeChat name is just an emoji of a fried egg? Consider using WeChat’s Edit Alias function to write in people’s actual names so you can keep track of all your coworkers, friends, Tantan hookups, and people-you-met-at-Perry’s-that-one-night.
You can also edit your own alias in a group chat by tapping the two-person silhouette in the upper right hand corner and scrolling down to My Alias in Group. For a fun prank, consider changing your name to ‘You were removed from the group.’ It always gets someone!
(Note: if a friend has already chosen an alias for you, then the prank won't work — the alias they've set for you will appear in their group chats).
7. Group Tags
Similar to the Edit Alias function is the option to add a tag. Manually go through all your contacts and add tags such as ‘Do not share party moments with’ and ‘DEAR GOD, YOU CALLED IN SICK YESTERDAY. DON’T LET YOUR BOSS SEE THAT YOU WERE OUT.’
Now with the tap of a button, you can carefully curate who gets to see what.
Next time you log into WeChat, don’t bother remembering a password. Set up voiceprint instead to log in using a verbal recitation of digits. To enable the feature, go to Me > Settings > My Account > Voiceprint.
9. Track Deliveries
One of WeChat’s newest features lets you track the status of express deliveries within China by scanning the delivery form’s barcode.
10. Order Food, Reserve Tables and Interact with Your Favorite Brands
Many official accounts offer you the ability to do things like order food (Wagas) and reserve a table (Haidilao), all without leaving WeChat. Functions vary by account, and you may need to know some Chinese to use them.
11. Send a Postcard
The ability to read Chinese opens up a whole new world on WeChat with the Public Services feature (Me > Wallet > Public Services). There are seemingly endless sub-features like bus ticket sales, weather reports, and even a mobile library. Everything under public services is run through third party providers, so it helps to have a strong internet connection.
One particularly cool thing you can do through public services is create and send a digital postcard anywhere in China for RMB5. You can add a picture from your camera roll, type out a little message and add a city-specific stamp. Then the company will print it out and mail it for you, saving you a trip to the post office.
12. Step Tracker
Enable Weixin Yundong (微信运动), English name ‘WeRun,’ by searching and following the official WeChat account. Once it is enabled, go to Settings in the upper right hand corner and click Add data source to hook the app up to your phone’s fitness tracker. Now, every time you walk a few steps, you can watch your step count rise above that of your friends.
While these fun features cover many aspects of life, they barely scratch the surface of what WeChat can do. Next time you’re bored, take out your WeChat and play around with it. You never know what you might find!
Additional contributions by Bridget O'Donnell