What WeChat is How to Start Messaging

By Kay FleuryUpdated on December 7, 2017

Advances in technology have allowed us to communicate with people all over the world, virtually whenever we want. And now, there are many platforms out there to help you achieve this: phone calls, emails, text messages, video chats, and much more. Unfortunately, some of these methods of communication can be very expensive. But what if there was a communication platform that combined all of these features, but needed only a connection to the Internet to function. That’s what WeChat is.

WeChat is an online communication platform that allows you to interact with your contacts through instant messages, voice calls, video calls, voice recordings, file sharing, and social media. It operates for free, and makes for simple, easy-to-use connection to your contacts, all over the world!

How WeChat works + 6 great ways to start chatting online

Once you download and install the app, you can begin adding your contacts (either manually, or by importing WeChat users in your contact list). From there, simply tap on someone’s name and then choose how you want to communicate with them.

WeChat messaging screen

You can choose from sending instant messages and chatting, to recording a voice message, or having voice or video calls with your contacts. You can also easily update your status and location so people know what you’re doing, share contact information, use the “Sight” feature to share what you’re seeing now, or the “Favorites” feature to share your favorite messages or moments you’ve had on WeChat.

As long as you’re connected to the Internet, all of these functions of WeChat will work. The app uses the Internet to send all of the messages, so you don’t need a phone plan to use it. You can connect instantly with your contacts all over the world, and talk as much as you like! There’s plenty you can do with WeChat, and here are some ways you can get started using it.

Ways to start using WeChat:

1. Talk, text, and instant message as much as you want, without a phone plan.

There’s no limit to how many messages you send, or how much you can talk. Because you only need a connection to the Internet to use it, it is a great alternative to modern phone plans which can be expensive – especially if you like to talk to loved ones outside of the country you live in. Save on long distance charges and unnecessary fees, and go with an Internet-based communication platform like WeChat instead.

2. Connect with anyone you know – and even some people you don’t – all over the world.

If you have relatives, friends, or colleagues in other countries, you can easily add them on WeChat and talk as much as you want. There are also some functions of WeChat such as “People Nearby” or “Shake” that allow you to add contacts who are near you, or who are shaking their device while using WeChat all over the world. Send greetings and make new friends in a snap!

To learn more about these functions or add contacts to WeChat, be sure to check out our tutorial on how to use WeChat.

3. Collaborate on a project.

WeChat is also a great tool for work collaboration, as a team can easily set up a group chat and discuss ongoing projects and business. Colleagues and students alike can easily add one another and communicate instantly to update each other on the status of their work. You can also send images and files, so sharing is as easy as clicking.

4. Share your favorite moments.

WeChat allows you to post updates about your life, and save the images and messages you love. Then, you can share those favorite moments with other users. Keep all your contacts up to date on what’s going on in your life, which is especially easy if you use WeChat as one of your main forms of communication.

5. Unlimited video chatting.

One of the best features of WeChat is that you can video chat with your contacts as much as you like. Video chatting is more and more becoming the way we talk, and WeChat allows you to do this using an Internet connection, and has no limit on how much you can talk. Simply start a video call, hold your mobile device up to your face, and then see your contact on the screen!

6.Talk while you travel and don’t worry about short-term phone plans.

If you’re travelling for a short or long time, or go on an exchange to another country, WeChat is a great alternative to trying to find short-term phone plans, which are often expensive for what they offer you, or limit what you can do substantially. Instead, make sure you have a connection to the Internet, and use WeChat for all your communication needs; you’ll save a lot of money.

How much does WeChat cost?

WeChat is free to download, sign up for, and use, and almost all of its features are free. You can send messages, images, voice recordings, and make voice or video calls, all for free. Some in-app items and downloadable stickers can be purchased. And users must pay for an Internet plan to use the app.

When using Wi-Fi, the WeChat app is free. Be sure to take caution when using the app with data on your mobile device, as it can use many MB of your monthly data (especially for video calls). Try to always use WeChat on Wi-Fi to avoid these charges.

How secure and safe is WeChat to use?

WeChat is as safe as most messaging services, as it requires user registration and a password to sign in, meaning each account is secure. You can also manage who you add as a contact, adjust your privacy setting to limit how others can add you, and block any unfriendly users to end contact with them.

WeChat does pose some safety concerns however, as anyone with a mobile device can use it, and there is no verification of identity. It also allows you to search users nearby, or connect with strangers all over the world. Be sure to exercise caution when using WeChat and interacting with strangers, and always check your privacy settings to make sure they fit what you’re comfortable with.

To learn more about this, and see our tips on how to stay safe while using the app, check out our article on WeChat safety and security.

The history of WeChat and why it’s so popular

WeChat was created by the Chinese company Tencent, a company that gained its fame as a pioneer of Internet-based instant messaging. It’s app, WeChat, was invented by Xialong Zhang, and was launched in 2011. It is currently available in 52 languages, and its number of monthly active users was one of the fastest growing increases for an app, ever.

WeChat is one of the most popular Internet-based communication platforms, boasting over 800 million active users. Its popularity comes from the fact that the service is free to use, and is not limited in any way. It has a simple layout, is easy to use, and allows you to connect with so many users, all over the world.

The pros and cons of WeChat

WeChat is one of the most popular communication apps for a reason. It is free to download, sign up for, and entirely free to use; as long as you have a connection to the Internet, you never have to pay for it. It also has a very simple layout, and is easy to learn how to use. It also offers users many ways to communicate, including instant messaging, voice calls, video calls, and voice recording, all with no limitations on usage.

Some of the cons of WeChat are that to use it, you need to have a working connection to the Internet. Though it can save you money by avoiding expensive phone plans, you must have a subscription to an Internet plan, or at least find free Wi-Fi in order to use it. Another issue is that when you sign up for WeChat, your privacy settings allow users to gain a lot of information about you, and add you as a contact very easily; make sure you change these privacy settings as soon as you sign up. In addition, the added features of WeChat such as Moments or Shake don’t add much to the communication experience.

The best apps like WeChat

There are some great alternatives to WeChat out there that offer you many of the same features. One of the most popular is WhatsApp, which is also very similar to WeChat in layout and execution, and has almost as many active users as WeChat. Kik, or Kik Messenger, is another app like WeChat that focusses on having fun while you talk, and allows link sharing, creating your own memes, and drawing while you chat. Skype is another popular alternative to WeChat, and was one of the pioneers of the free, online video chat, which is also similar to Google Hangouts, Google’s online communication platform that allows video and voice chatting, as well as screen-sharing and many other collaborative features.

To learn more about these, and all the great features of these competitors (and others), check out this article.

And that’s our introduction to WeChat! If you are interested in learning more, be sure to check out the rest of the TechBoomers course on WeChat, including our next article on how to stay safe while using the app. We’ve also got you covered with step-by-step tutorials on how to download and install the app, how to create your account, and how to use WeChat. Start learning now and become a WeChat pro today!