In 2011, Tencent published a Chinese instant messaging app called Weixin (微信) or WeChat that skyrocketed into today’s all-in-one super-app complete with social media features, digital payment services, and more. There are currently over 1 billion active users worldwide.
You probably haven’t had the time to explore Weixin’s features. Some of its features are China-exclusive like everything in the Services section. I scoured the app for the most efficient and accessible features you probably don’t know yet but should try. In this article, you will learn how to translate messages and images in-app, log in with just your voice, change your group alias, improve accessibility, and track your step count. Here’s how to use WeChat’s handy features:
Change personal alias in group chats
This feature allows you to change your name in the group exclusively. Aliases can be useful if you are using Weixin as your company’s mode of communication or if you like to personalize each group chat.
To change your alias, open your group chat and press on the three dots on the upper right hand corner; this will take you to your group settings. Scroll all the way down and you should see “My Alias in Group”. Your default name should appear beside it. Open it and then type down your new alias.
Unlike Messenger, you cannot change other members’ aliases. Regardless of your contact name saved in your group member’s phone, your new alias will prevail.
Translate texts and images
Texts and images with intelligible texts can be translated. This is incredibly handy for multilingual business conversations carried out in Weixin. You can also quickly translate Chinese texts you find in the real world, like in food packaging or newspapers.
To translate texts, simply open a chat conversation and hold down the text you want to translate. Holding down the text will prompt several functions such as copy, forward, add to favorites, etc. Tap “Translate”; this can be seen in the bottom row, second to the right. A translation by Weixin will be generated below the original text.
To translate texts in the physical world or in existing photos in your gallery, open the “Discover” section at the bottom of the app and press “Scan”. This will prompt your camera to open so you have to enable access to the camera.
At the bottom, there are two functions: you can either scan or translate. Press “Translate” and point your camera at the text. Take a picture to translate.
Alternatively, you can open your Album. You must allow access to photos to use this function. Open the image you want to translate and press “Done” on the upper right corner. The translated texts will appear on top of the original texts.
With the in-app translator, you won’t have to copy the text and translate it in another app. The translation isn’t perfect as is Google Translate, but I find it to be effective especially if you have some background in the Chinese language.
Note: Photo translations only work for horizontal texts.
Improve visual accessibility by enabling Easy Mode
This is for users with poor eyesight or for users who are uncomfortable with the compactness of the interface. Enabling Easy Mode will enlarge texts and buttons, improve color contrast, and allow text-to-speech. In other words, the app will become easier to navigate.
Open the “Me” section at the bottom of the app and go to Settings. Tap on “Easy Mode”, right below “Account Security”. Tap Enable, and watch the interface change to Easy Mode. Once enabled, you can also turn on Listen to Text Messages which allows you to hear messages by tapping them.
Enable WeRun to track and share step count
Weixin comes with an in-app step counter, but it is only accessible when you enable it in the settings.
Go to the “Me” section at the bottom of the app and go to Settings. Open “General” settings, then press “Tools”. Here you will see enabled and disabled third-party apps like Facebook Tool, Tencent News, Weixin Pay, QQ Mail, and WeRun. WeRun is expected to be at the bottom where the disabled third-party apps are. Press “WeRun” to preview its details and hit Enable. Enabling it takes a few seconds.
Once enabled, press “Go to WeRun”. WeChat will request access to your motion and fitness activity. Hit Allow so you can enter WeRun rankings and compete with your Weixin friends. You can also allow access to your Health data, but this is up to you.
You can access WeRun in the “Chats” section and it will show you your rank among Weixin friends and your steps for the day.
Enable Voiceprint to log in with voice
Can’t remember your password every time you log in? You can try Voiceprint for easier and faster log-ins. Instead of typing your password, you can read aloud a sequence of numbers. Weixin will verify your log-in just by listening to your voice.
To enable Voiceprint, go to Settings, then press “Account Security” found at the top of the screen. Go to “Voiceprint” and toggle on “Log in via Voiceprint”. You will be instructed to hold down the mic button and read a sequence of digits shown on screen. Just read aloud the sequence like you would twice– the third time is for verification.
The next time you log in, you will log in with your voice!