Face-off: LINE and WeChat announce new versions

  • LINE BAND v2.0 features include advanced chatting and keyword search function in group boards
  • WeChat 5.0 has sticker shop with online payment capability, promises better user experience

Face-off: LINE and WeChat announce new versionsTHE seeming head-to-head battle between mobile messaging platforms LINE BAND and WeChat entered a new phase with both announcing new versions within hours of each other.
LINE BAND, which says it has evolved from a messaging platform to function like a private social networking group, was first off the mark, saying its version 2.0 (pic) includes features such as advanced chatting and a keyword search function in group boards.
Previous versions only allowed chatting with group members as a whole, but now users can enjoy individual chats with selected members without leaving the app to send messages via SMS or other messenger platforms.
It is also now available on the desktop (http://www.band.us/) with support for nine different languages, the company said in a statement, including English, Malay, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Spanish, Indonesian and Vietnamese.
The official version will be released in the fourth quarter of this year with support for even more languages, the company said.
LINE BAND claimed its app has surpassed 15 million downloads with over five million groups formed in less than a year since its initial release in August, 2012.
“We expect that the 2.0 update will strengthen LINE BAND as a fully-equipped service for group communication,” said its head of business development and global marketing, Mike Won.
“We are now aiming to acquire more users from the global market by addressing the problems that may result from the differences in mobile environments across countries. We have been reviewing user feedback from each market to provide better experiences in using our app, and will continue to support global users,” he added.
Face-off: LINE and WeChat announce new versionsWeChat ups the ante
Meanwhile, Tencent also announced the launch of WeChat 5.0, with key enhancements including the introduction of a sticker shop (pic) with online payment capability and an enriched user experience.
Tencent claimed that WeChat has surpassed the 70 million registered user accounts internationally.
WeChat 5.0 introduces ‘Hold Together,’ a location based service that allows users to find and connect friends who are close to each other. With ‘Shake’ and ‘People Nearby,’ users are able to connect with friends with a simple touch of the screen.
Once friends have been located, users can add friends with an upgraded ‘Adding Contacts’ function, while communicating with them is made simpler with a refined ‘Quick Entry’ for the Group Chat function.
“The new WeChat 5.0 moves the platform beyond a simple chatting app and enriches the user experience by being a truly mobile social platform,” said Poshu Yeung, vice president of the International Business Group at Tencent.
“Users not only meet, chat and share moments, pictures and videos with friends and people they care about in an innovative and fun way, they do it in a dynamic and intuitive fashion,” he added.
Other platform updates include making sharing web pages to Facebook easier for those who have linked their Facebook account to their WeChat account; a revamped ‘Official Accounts’ user interface that makes it more convenient for users to group brand accounts into one single category, reducing clutter in chat screens; and a new ‘Save Messages’ function that allows users to keep sentimental text and voice messages and photos.
“While WeChat users enjoy connecting with friends and meeting new people, WeChat’s comprehensive privacy setting functionality allows users to limit who is able to communicate with them, control who views their information and manage how they can be found,” said Yeung.
“For added security and control, protection mechanisms such as the two-way authentication to initiate a chat, ability to hide contact details and create a ‘black list’ to block other users and allowing users to turn off LBS features, means their fun is experienced only with people they trust,” he added.
Related Stories:
Tencent ups the ante with WeChat, looking to build ecosystem
LINE casts itself deeper into Malaysian waters
Rakuten Malaysia gets LINE in to mobile shopping
WeChat hits Malaysian milestone
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