Short video app Douyin launches mini-program feature

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ByteDance-backed short video app Douyin, known as TikTok internationally, has rolled out a long-awaited mini-program feature, allowing users to access various services without leaving the app. The feature is currently only available in its Android app and not yet on iOS.

Mini-programs, initially created for Wechat, are lightweight alternatives to apps that run inside existing applications on a user’s mobile phone.

In October, users found a “mini-program” section in the app’s settings. However, mini-programs only became functional on Dec. 13.

The feature is currently being used by several popular accounts on Douyin. For example, by tapping a small green icon in a promotional video posted by Universal Studios, users are redirected to a mini-program for China’s popular ticketing platform Maoyan to purchase tickets for The Grinch. Payment can be made through Alipay.

 

A mini-program within Douyin’s app. (Image credit: Jisuyingyong)

Douyin mini-programs can also be shared externally to WeChat in the form of QR codes. WeChat users activate a Douyin mini-program by scanning the codes.

Tencent’s WeChat first launched the mini-program feature in 2017. After a slow start, the feature’s popularity has ballooned, with 1.5 million developers having created more than 1 million mini-programs as of November this year.

Chinese tech giants have attempted to catch up to capitalize on the rise of the easy-to-use feature. In 2018, both Alibaba’s Alipay and Baidu included mini-programs into their ecosystem. Douyin’s sister app Toutiao is also testing its own mini-programs.

Integration of mini-program could boost Douyin’s social e-commerce functions in providing users with better shopping experiences and creating an all-in-one entertainment and shopping platform. This comes in line with the boom of content-driven e-commerce in China. Douyin rival Kuaishou doubled on e-commerce features this week through the launch of updated e-commerce features. At the same time, Alibaba’s Taobao buddied up with video streaming site Bilibili to boost commercialization of content-driven e-commerce.