Didi is rolling out an English version this Spring

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Editor’s note: A version of this post by Mike Wester first appeared on the Beijinger, a leading source of English-language lifestyle information on the city of Beijing.

Didi Chuxing, the local car hailing app that managed to get Uber to withdraw from the China market (and then discontinued support for Uber’s English interface Nov 26), is soon re-introducing a way to hail a ride in English: this time through their Didi app.

Expats have felt abandoned since support for Uber’s English interface was discontinued late last year, resulting in a convoluted set of difficult choices for the average Beijing-based laowai. While the original international version of Uber still works elsewhere, it does not work here. Didi Chuxing made a local version of Uber available, but in Mandarin only. Finally there is Didi, which is also in Mandarin only.

Despite the lack of an English interface, many expats have gravitated towards Didi due to a more thoroughly developed set of local services.

Now comes word that Didi Chuxing is resurrecting an English version. But rather than build it on top of the Chinese version of Uber, they’re going to do it with the Didi app.

We’ve heard from reliable sources that a basic English interface will be rolled out as early as spring or summer of this year, and the intention is to eventually make the app 100 percent bilingual. Foreign PR and advertising agencies have already been retained to help the company with the rollout.

As of now there has been no change in the Chinese Didi app for iPhone, but some Android users that download from the Google Play store are reporting a version of the app was released recently that has the beginnings of an English interface.

We checked China-based Xiaomi and Samsung app stores early Saturday evening but neither had English-enabled versions.

While in the process of trying to unearth the latest Didi iPhone app on the US Apple store, we did come across a fully English verison of Didi – but it turned out to be a shanzai version out of Vietnam that shamelessly uses the Didi name and logo to promote their car-hailing service (which appears to feature only female drivers):

While this app is fully in English, a spokesperson from Didi confirmed that this app has nothing to do with Didi as we know it here in Beijing. We were a little skittish about poking our credit card details into the Vietnamese version so we went no further to see if it works here in Beijing.

If you’re a genuine Didi user that uses Google Play and has seen the English interface, let us know about your experience in the comments below.