Tencent’s cloud computing arm and Xiaomi-backed smart wearable maker Huami have entered a strategic partnership, under which Huami’s smart wearables will support features and apps developed by Tencent, Chinese media reported.
After the upgrade, Tencent’s Xiaowei will be added to the virtual assistant options that users can choose from, Wang Yichao, Huami’s vice president of strategy and communication, told TechNode on Wednesday. Currently, the Huami’s wearables only support Xiaomi’s Xiao AI virtual assistant in China. The international version of Huami’s smart devices support Amazon’s Alexa. Tencent Cloud first unveiled the Xiaowei AI assistant in May at the Tencent Global Digital Ecosystem Summit, where the company said it was exploring more use cases for the technology.
Tencent apps including social app QQ, music streaming platform QQ Music, and translation app Mr. Translator will be gradually rolled out on Huami’s smart devices in the third quarter. Wang said the company does not have an exact timeline yet.
The apps will also be linked with Xiaowei, allowing users voice control over features on smartwatches such as playing music on QQ Music and sending messages on QQ.
Founded in 2013, Huami is hailed as the “Fitbit of China,” and is one of the country’s biggest major smart wearable makers. In 2017, the company shipped more than 11 million units in the first nine months, more than any smart wearable seller in the world.
Huami is a primary smart band and watch manufacturer for Xiaomi, the second-largest smart wearable company by shipment volume. It also has its own smart wearable brand, Amazfit. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi owns nearly a fifth of Huami, and its CEO Lei Jun is also a major shareholder of the company.
Huami went public last February and has maintained double-digit revenue growth, although it is decelerating according to the company’s first quarter financial results.
The global smart wearable market is growing rapidly. According to research firm Gartner, worldwide shipments are projected to reach 225 million this year, a nearly 26% year-on-year increase, and China is one of the markets driving that growth.
This week, the company reached a deal with US chip giant Qualcomm, which will create eSIM cards that allow Huami’s devices to make and receive phone calls.