Tencent brings its popular messaging app to desktops with WeChat for Mac

Promoted as a native Mac client, the desktop edition of WeChat may be a "repackaging" of a previous web-based version

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 7:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 7:52pm

Tencent has expanded its reach from mobile phones to desktop computers by officially announcing a native Mac version of WeChat, its popular messaging app.

Announced February 27 on Tencent’s official microblog, WeChat for Mac features both Chinese and English language options and is designed to support Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and above.

This is not the first time Tencent has dabbled in non-mobile software. A web-based version of WeChat is also available for public use and can sync data from mobile phones.

While similar to its web-based predecessor, WeChat for Mac marks the first time the company has released a specialised, native client of its messaging software intended specificially for use on desktop computers.

There is currently no official word from Tencent on whether a Windows native client will also be released in the near future.

Users of WeChat for Mac noted that while the software offers satisfactory messaging and file transfer options, it is essentially a “packaged version of the existing web WeChat,” Tech in Asia reported.

“I downloaded this, took one look at it… And all I have to say is, what’s the difference between this one and the web version?” one disgruntled Sina Weibo commentator wrote on Tencent’s microblog.

Technology analysts have speculated that rather than offering up entirely new software, Tencent may have “repackaged” its web version of Wechat as a native Mac client in an effort to compete with its rival LINE, a messaging app produced by the Japanese subsidiary of Korean company Naver.

LINE boasts a massive audience in Japan and Taiwan and already offers both native Mac and Windows clients.

Currently boasting over 300 million active users, WeChat has expanded its reach dramatically in the past year.

Tencent has broadened the app’s appeal by adding mobile game functionality and using it to link information from other apps, such as the short video sharing service Weishi.

A savings investment feature was also installed into WeChat last December. The feature allows users to easily connect their bank cards with their WeChat accounts and deposit cash through Tenpay, Tencent's e-payment system. 

Users can manage their funds directly through WeChat after depositing and make quick purchases at supported retailers. 

Last year, Poshu Yeung, vice-president of Tencent’s interntional business group, said that the company had a long term goal to turn Wechat into “a truly mobile social platform” by introducing features that would elevate it “beyond a simple chatting app.”