Tencent has recently launched a video chat-based social app featuring mandatory masks and filters on Apple’s China App Store in a quirky departure from the company known for creating ubiquitous instant messaging platform WeChat, media outlet TechPlanet reported.

Why it matters: Tencent has been attempting to create new or revamp existing apps to fend off the onslaught of short video apps which have been grabbing share of user time spent from Tencent’s social apps.

  • So far, Tencent still doesn’t have a short video app with daily active users (DAU) comparable to Bytedance-owned Douyin’s 320 million as of end-June.

Details: Named “Maohu,” the app’s main feature is anonymous five-minute “dating sessions” between users via video chat during which faces are masked by the platform.

  • Users will be matched based on stated relationship intentions, which range from “just chatting” to “single and looking for dates” to “confiding.”
  • Upon starting a call, the app automatically applies a mask which fully obscures users on both sides.
  • Matched users can chat with the mask on for five minutes. The app requires male users to turn off the mask within the five minutes in order to send friend invites to female users, and invites can only be sent to female users that a male user has already chatted with. Male users are additionally limited to three dates per day.
  • Female users have no such restrictions and can remain masked the entire time.
  • Once the mask is removed, the app applies beauty filters that, for example, smooth the skin or make faces appear narrower. Users can adjust the filters.
  • Maohu currently does not support any form of text chat or voice chat—users are limited to video calls only.

Context: The app was developed and released by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent.

  • According to data from Apple’s App Store, the app was released three months ago and has since received nine updates.

Tony Xu is Shanghai-based tech reporter. Connect with him via e-mail: tony.xu@technode.com

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