Category Archives: Weixin

WeChat – Back up your chats or lose them

We love WeChat. Many of our readers like it too. Our WeChat posts are almost as popular as our Facebook posts. For that reason, here’s a tip for the holiday season: Back up your chat history.

This is the time of year when many of us get new mobile devices as gifts. Sales of tablets and smartphones peak at this time of the  year, at least in the western world. While WeChat automatically backs up your contact list, it doesn’t save any of your chat history. If you sign into your WeChat account from a new phone or mobile device, your contacts are there but your chats aren’t. Here’s how to temporarily save your chat history to the WeChat servers. Once you do that, you can restore the saved history to your new phone.

1. Head to Settings on your Me menu:

Photo of WeChat Chat History Backup
Head to your WeChat account and click Me in the lower right hand corner. Click Settings when you see this.

2. Look for the word Chat in your Settings and press it:

Photo of WeChat Chat History   2
To backup your chats, press Chat.

3. Under Chat History, we’re going to Backup/Restore Chat History. Backup first from this device then Restore on your new device.

Photo of WeChat Chat History   3
Back up now, Restore later.

4. If you’ve got your new device all set up, click Backup. This whole process is temporary, right? Seven days is the limit.

Photo of WeChat Chat History   4
Make sure you’re on WiFi and your battery is full then press Backup.

5. Once you’ve backed up your chats, sign into your account on your new device and go through the same steps shown here, except choose Restore instead of Backup. Depending on how large your chat record is, this whole thing could take some time. Make sure you’re on WiFi and that your battery is well charged or you’re plugged into a power outlet before you begin. If your phone dies in the middle of all of this or if you lose your connection, things will get screwed up. Prepare everything using your common sense and you’re all set.

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WeChat vs. WhatsApp

We’ve been shouting about WeChat for quite a while. In fact, one of our posts on it is the most popular piece we’ve ever done. WhatsApp has been around a bit longer and claims more users than WeChat but the figures don’t include the hundreds of millions of users  in China. We think that in a worldwide comparison, WeChat would have more users. As more people leave Facebook, it seems they are turning to other social networking apps to keep in touch with friends and to meet new people. Today we’ll take a look at these two, relatively new instant messaging tools.

Photo of WeChat Instant Messaging
WeChat is still our favorite IM app.

Who’s Got Your Number?

Only WhatsApp asks for your mobile number so we’ll start with a warning. Do you really want instant messages from anyone on your phone’s contact list? We don’t. That condition alone would keep most people from choosing WhatsApp over WeChat. The only time WeChat gets your number is when you give it to them in order to link your mobile contacts with it. It is not a mandatory part of the signup process. Ten points for WeChat.

Which App Helps You Find New Friends? 

Only WeChat lets you search for new friends and it does it in a very unique and fun way. Shake your device and you instantly find others users who are doing the same thing. Why is this important? None of the other instant messaging apps allow for this kind of reaching out to users who are searching for friends. WhatsApp relies on your current contacts, blindly assuming that those contacts are the only people you are interested in messaging. Clearly, judging from the huge success that WeChat has found with its Shake and People Nearby features, this isn’t the case. The beauty of WeChat’s Shake is that both parties are shaking at the same time, essentially telling each other that they are open to new contacts. There is no misinterpretation and no privacy issues with Shake. You only use it when you have time and the inclination to search the world for potential contacts.

Free? We Love Free!

WeChat wins here because it is free, totally free. WhatsApp is only free for the first year, after which it costs a whopping $0.99. OK, so ninety-nine cents isn’t anywhere near whopping but you get the point. We’re not sure how WeChat makes any income from their app but the fact that it is still free after several years of being available, they must be getting income from somewhere. There is word of Tencent selling accounts to retail and commercial clients, so far we’ve only seen that as an opt-in choice. This means that you can choose to follow a retail chain, let’s say American Apparel, and get their directed messages but that’s it. Nothing that you didn’t already ask for comes your way. More points for WeChat.

Photo of WhatsApp Instant Messaging
WhatsApp is popular only because people don’t know about WeChat, right?







Privacy. Who’s On and When Did You Last Show Up? 

With WeChat, no one knows if you are online or sleeping or in the middle of a meeting. Your contacts can send messages and you might, or might not, respond immediately. With WhatsApp, users are shown as offline, online or ‘last seen at’. Add this to the problem we mentioned before, that of receiving instant messages from anyone on your contact list who uses WhatsApp, and we think WeChat wins again. WeChat asks you first if it’s OK to receive a message from a stranger.

We think you get the idea by now. WeChat is a free, full-featured instant messaging app that protects your privacy but let’s you have fun, too. As far as features go, WeChat wins hands down. You can send any kind of message you can think of: video, text, voice, photos, links to web pages…instantly. WhatsApp has recently added Group Chat and some other features but WeChat has had these for a lot longer. Which apps do you use? Let us know what you think is best and why. Make a comment below or, better yet,  Like us on our Facebook page and comment there. Here is the link:  Computers Made Simple on Facebook  We’ll be glad you did.

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WeChat Shake Problem – a solution? Maybe.

There is a problem with the WeChat Shake application that we’ve written about in the past. It seems that the company responsible for WeChat, Tencent International, might have set up a temporary ban for users who use the Shake feature too frequently in one session. One of our readers noticed that he was able to get normal results, as opposed to purely Chinese results in Shake, if he simply stopped shaking for about half an hour.

To us, this makes perfect sense. Although the Shake feature is fun and quite exciting to use by times, we assume that it creates quite a drain on the WeChat servers. For this reason, we think that Tencent/Weixin/WeChat have created a shake limit for users who abuse this service.

This may be because of a drain on their servers or it could be an attempt to cut out or eliminate spammers from using the Shake feature to promote their products. Keep in mind that millions upon millions of Asian users use Weixin/WeChat, not just users in North America, Europe and Africa. India, for instance, seems to have taken to this app in a big way. When a company realizes the marketing potential available through WeChat, we think they would leap at the chance to contact users one to one, perhaps to the point of paying people to shake and then send out spam messages to users. We can imagine a scenario where a roomful of low-paid ‘shakers’ send out endless spam messages one by one. Knowing this, you can understand why we think WeChat has imposed a limit on the number of shakes per minute/hour/day for users. It’s a guess, but an educated one.

How popular is WeChat? This graphic gives you an idea:

Photo of WeChat Graphic
300 million users of which 50 million use WeChat* (as opposed to Weixin*).


(* WeChat is the English version, Weixin is the Chinese language version. )

That’s an incredible growth rate, isn’t it? As far as we know, the two sides of the app work in conjunction with each other. We have contacts who use Weixin and some who use WeChat. We can’t identify which app these contacts use so we assume that WeChat/Weixin is one big happy family.

Our advice? Keep shaking but don’t take things too seriously. If you’re looking for a date, sign up for an online service that concentrates on just that. If you’re looking for friends from all over the world, use WeChat’s Shake and relax. It’s free and works well. If you get odd results, take a break. Above all, don’t install any helper apps. You don’t need them and they may skew your search results. Happy shaking!
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Weixan/WeChat – Shake your way to new friends

EDIT: We’ve been in touch with WeChat on Twitter. They’ve sent us a couple of Direct Messages there. Here’s what they said: 

“Hi Brian. Thx for helping us answer users’ questions! I can see that ur site is a super useful resource! We really appreciate it!” 

All well and good but how about some help! Here’s the next one: 

“We read through some of the comments & submitted these issues to the team. We’ll get back to you as soon as I hear back….”

The last one was back on September 27th, 2013. Still waiting. We’ll post when we hear from them. 


Last week, we wrote about WeChat. Here is the post: WeChat/Weixin . Here is the link to WeChat at the Apple Store.!/id414478124?mt=8 It’s available in the Android app store, as well.

Sometimes it seems that the only innovations in social networking are coming out of China. Honestly, that’s not all that hard to figure out, seeing as how there are over a billion people there and almost half of them use the Internet. Of those users, about 400 million access the Internet using the various mobile devices available, many of which are Smartphones.

Add the fact that Chinese Internet users are very sociable, probably more so than North Americans, and you’ve got a perfect wave forming for a company like Tencent ( Enter Weixin or WeChat. Tencent already has a huge market with QQ and its own version of Weibo but now, with WeChat, they have come up with a purely mobile chat application that is, to us anyway, stunning.

Read our previous post then come back and find out how to meet new people using WeChat. Take your time, we’ll wait.

OK! Here we go. There are three completely different ways to look for other WeChat users. Of course, you can plunk in your other social media passwords and find out which friends already use WeChat or you can invite them to start using it, but here we’re talking about meeting completely new people.

1. The first way is to simply ‘Look Around’. If your mobile device has a GPS monitor, you’ll be able to search out WeChat users who live in your area. In my case, I found users within 900 meters of my home. To me, that’s kind of like standing on your porch and shouting, “Is there anybody out there?” Of course, the local users are all Chinese, except for me that is. Most early adopters of WeChat are overwhelmingly Chinese but, theoretically, that will change.

Once you find a WeChat user nearby, you can simply say, “Hi”. You can also tune the Look Around feature to show only males, only females or both. Personally, I think this feature is pretty cool but I can also see how it might seem creepy to some of you. If it does, you can easily delete the Look Around plug-in. It is part of the default set of plug-ins and is easily removed.

2. Instead of looking around for other WeChat users, you can shake your way to new relationships using the Shake plug-in. Choose the option from the screen and simply give your mobile phone a shake. WeChat looks around for other users who are shaking their devices at the same time and gives you the option to say hi to them. This plug-in is more proactive than the Look Around feature since you already know that the person shaking their phone is looking to make contact with someone. Say hi and see how it goes. You can always shake again if things turn sour. Remember, again, that virtually every user you contact will be Chinese. If you know anything about China and the Chinese people, you will know that almost everyone wants to learn English but many Chinese already have a rudimentary knowledge of it.  Many Chinese speak and write better English than some of your friends and neighbors, too.

TIP: If you meet someone you like and the English thing isn’t getting you anywhere, you can download QQ International. We’ll do another post on it but, for now, we’ll simply say that you can chat with someone who only knows Chinese even if you only know English. There is a wonderful translation app built into the International version which has opened up the world to China and, of course, China to the world.

3. The last way to meet new friends is to simply cast a bottle out into the ocean. Of course, this is a virtual bottle but it works the same way as a real bottle with a message in it. Type in your note or use a voice message and then toss your bottle into the ocean of WeChat users. WeChat will notify you when someone replies. Just now, I tossed a bottle out and almost instantly got three replies. One was a female exchange student in Denmark, another was a man who left me a voice message and the third was also a guy who just said, ‘Hello”. In the span of five minutes, I’ve got three new people to share things with. Cool!

WeChat isn’t for everyone. At this point, you have to have a keen interest in China and the Chinese people. You also have to be patient and be able to understand that not everyone in the world speaks perfect English. Once you’re over those hurdles, WeChat is loads of fun. Additionally, if you wait a year or so, WeChat will be flooded with millions of other users. At this point, it supports Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Portuguese, plus English and Chinese. (If you know social networking, you’ll see the importance of having WeChat available in Portuguese. Orkut, the Google version of Facebook, is extremely popular in Brazil.)

Questions, comments, links are all welcome. Thanks for reading!