WeChat launches Instagram Stories-like ‘Time Capsule’ feature

2 min read
The messaging app also got an interface update (Image credit: TechNode Chinese)

China’s “super app” WeChat has undergone its most significant overhaul in four years, making further moves into the short video market.

The most conspicuous change in the new version is the addition of a new video feature called “Time Capsule.” Similar to Instagram Stories, it allows users to post videos of up to 15-seconds to an individual users’ feed instead of WeChat Moments, the app’s equivalent of Facebook’s News Feed. The video will self-destruct 24 hours after its publication.

After uploading either from existing newly recorded videos, users will be able to add descriptions, emojis, music, and locations. It will recommend background music based on the video content. After shooting a video containing buildings, TechNode found that the app suggested a song with the lyrics: “Go up, so high on the sixth floor.”

Image credit: TechNode/Emma Lee

The update comes at a time when Tencent is pushing into the short video market, which puts itself in direct competition with ByteDance, parent company of popular short video app Douyin, known as TikTok internationally.

Tencent has over 10 video apps targeting different user groups, including Weishi, Shanka, DOV, MOKA. Integrating a short video feature to WeChat may boost the company’s efforts by capitalizing on the app’s significant user base.

Despite the efforts, industry experts aren’t so optimistic, especially from a marketing perspective.

“I think anything that makes WeChat a richer experience for key opinion leaders to communicate with their super fans is fabulous,” said Elijah Whaley, CMO of PARKLU, a platform focusing on Chinese influencer marketing.

For him, the way for WeChat users to interact with shot video is “not very convenient.”

“You have to click into people’s accounts and click a little button [to view videos]. Also, you have to go into your account when checking comments from others.”

At the same time, WeChat networks are private, connecting to friends and family, while platforms like Douyin and community e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu are more about the connection with content creators, people sharing information you are interested in, he pointed out.

Apart from the new video function, the app’s interface has been completely overhauled. The previous darker design has been replaced with a lighter palette, while icons within the app have been simplified.

The major redesign of WeChat, which claims over 1.08 billion daily active users, sparked heated discussions in China’s online community. The hashtag  WeChat Upgrade attracted 620 million readers on Weibo as of 3 p.m. on Monday.