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Chinese smartphone giants join forces to fight WeChat

“Quick Apps” target Android users -- and WeChat

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo, OnePlus and six other top Chinese smartphone makers are working together to create what they’re calling “Quick Apps” -- apps that are so small, they start in just a few seconds without needing to be installed.

They’re teaming up to create a standard format for these apps, allowing them to run on any of their devices. But they also happen to give the companies a joint competitor to battle WeChat.

Quick Apps are very similar to WeChat’s Mini Programs, which are basically apps within an app. Instead of using regular apps across your phone, Mini Programs live inside WeChat itself -- allowing people to order food, call taxis and so much more without ever leaving the messaging app.

But speed isn’t the only reason why Mini Programs are popular. Instead, a big part of it has to do with the ubiquity of WeChat, which has over one billion users.

"Mini Programs are hyper-visible within the operating system of our lives, WeChat. As a result they have quickly been adopted without too much friction," said Thibault Genaitay, a Shanghai-based programmer and head of Le Wagon China coding boot camp.

He said Quick Apps will be available directly through the native search function of the devices, just like how Mini Programs are found through a search bar in WeChat. 

It could prove convenient for Android users. Google Play is blocked in China, so users have to go to a variety of local app stores -- including ones set up by Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo -- to find apps.

But with Mini Programs, WeChat has turned into one of the biggest app stores in China, allowing people to find everything they need in one place. 

Genaitay believes it could be hard for Quick Apps to beat WeChat's Mini Programs. 

"(Quick Apps) have neither the social data and built-in payment of WeChat, nor the low level technologies of native phone apps. It’s a difficult positioning," he said. 

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