Qihoo's Smart Button and the Interface of the Accompanying App
Qihoo 360’s Smart Button and the Interface of the Accompanying App

Qihoo 360, the Chinese tech company known for its security brand, launched a Pressy clone at the beginning of this year, invested in and merged another Chinese clone later, and decided to give them away earlier this month.

Now the company wants to build an “open platform” for the physical button for Android devices. A software platform has just been announced that third-party developers will be enable to integrate their applications or new features for Qihoo’s Android buttons.

Xiaomi and Qihoo now are the two Chinese companies that are keen to explore the potential in the “smart” Android button, which hadn’t been heard of in China until the Pressy’s Kickstarter campaign. While Pressy claims it’s “almighty”, the Chinese clones now provide more than it in terms of both number of functions or features and creativity.

Xiaomi’s Mi Key has introduced Chinese taxi app Kuaidi. The latest version of Qihoo’s Smart Button has added new features such as SOS for women and phone speed improvement. The SOS feature can automatically take photos and record audio, and send them together with location and presetted messages to emergency contacts, according to the company.

If more and more apps by Qihoo or third parties will be added onto the app later on, the Smart Button will possible work as an app distributor. Is it what the biggest Chinese tech companies are fighting for?

So Mi Key’s integration with Kuaidi app makes me believe Xiaomi is in the same direction. But Xiaomi may not announce an open platform like Qihoo did. The company, when deciding to add more services to the custom Android system for Xiaomi devices, chose to develop some on their own or introduce handpicked third-party services.

Currently the biggest mobile app distributors in China include Baidu’s 91, Tencent, Qihoo 360, Xiaomi and Wandoujia, with Qihoo through channeling users of its popular mobile security service, and Xiaomi through selling more devices with its own app store in.

Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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