Without previous training, expats coming to China can have a hard time dealing with Chinese writing and translation becomes a must to survive everyday life. The absence of Google translation has left the space wide-open for translation tools and apps targeting expats. However, many of these are chatbots and “dumb” dictionaries. Ringy, a WeChat-based translation service, has decided to go the other way around by embracing real, human intelligence. On top of that, the translation service is completely free and powered by volunteers looking to interact in English.

People wanting human-powered translation and communication can add “ringyringy” on WeChat. After that, users can copy and paste Chinese text, type in English, or even upload a picture and they will get connected with a Chinese native speaker to help. Voice messages are also supported, but currently only available for Android phone users.

Ringy also provides concierge services such as finding a maid, shipping company, or something more mundane like food delivery for RMB 1 for each minute of help. This is the only service they charge for and all fees go directly to the volunteer. Ringy does not take a commission from the volunteer or user.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com