What happened: Chinese tech giant Tencent is planning to introduce a Siri-like smart voice assistant, dubbed “Xiaowei,” for WeChat. The virtual assistant system, which works on devices from smart speakers to cars, will link Tencent’s services such as QQ Music as well as mini-programs run by third-party services such as Meituan Dianping, Didi Chuxing, and Mobike.
Why it’s important: Facing increasing competition from old rivals like Alibaba and upstarts like ByteDance, Tencent has been casting its eye to enterprise and emerging smart connected devices. The Siri-like voice assistant, which can be deployed by businesses, allows WeChat partners to tap into the app’s over 1 billion monthly active users easily. The service also opens up more potential applications, including the emerging connected devices industry that ranges from smart speakers to connected cars. In a speech last year, Tencent’s Pony Ma said the company wants to transform WeChat into an intelligent interaction medium, allowing users to interact with service software and vehicle hardware.