On December 19, WeChat Keyboard, a Chinese input method app created by Tencent’s WeChat team, went online in the Apple and Android App Stores, and ranked first in the free download list of tool-related apps.
WeChat Keyboard supports Chinese and English input while its voice input function can recognize Mandarin, Cantonese and English. In WeChat’s chat session, users can share related books, videos, mini-programs, and more by simply inputting a few words, such as the title. The app will also prompt the correct pronunciation and tone of a character that is written in by hand.
The whole app has only one main interface, which consists of two main parts – function recommendation and setting. The keyboard interface is primarily gray and white but when no text is input, there will be a green icon in the upper left corner. In terms of basic functions, it is not much different from other apps, but it lacks functions such as custom keyboard skins, and its size of 226MB is larger than that of its rivals.
When installing and using the software for the first time, it will be set to “privacy protection mode” by default. In this mode, the content input by users will not be uploaded to Tencent‘s servers, but will only be stored on local devices.
However, after the “spelling plus” function is turned on, the software needs to use the network permission and upload some input data to the cloud server, and there will be a pop-up reminder when it is turned on. WeChat specifically emphasized that this behavior will not store the information uploaded by users, and the voice-to-text function that needs to upload data to the cloud server will not store the user’s information either.
At the beginning of 2021, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced 26 input methods apps that infringed on users’ rights and interests, and many of them were removed from app stores. WeChat, a social app with a monthly active user base of over 1.2 billion in China, holds the private data of almost all Chinese netizens. At the beginning of 2021, Allen Zhang, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent and President of WeChat Business Group, mentioned that WeChat launched its own input method not to grab the specific market, but to better protect users’ privacy.