Inception is coming to the mobile world.
Now that WeChat has now begun testing its Miniapp function, you can now use apps within WeChat — yes, these are apps inside an app. As Zhang Xiaolong, WeChat’s creator, explained, “These are apps that you don’t need to install, you can open them simply by searching or scanning them, which accommodates a ‘delete after use’ habit.”
Late last week, Tencent, which appears to be inching closer and closer to absolute domination of the mobile space, began sending out beta invites to developers who will now be able to make “lightweight apps” that are incorporated directly into WeChat. The hope is that this would eliminate the need to constantly play a delicate balancing game of installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling apps based on the amount of memory left on your smartphone. With the Miniapp program, developers would create “web apps embedded inside the WeChat app that you can find and use without installing bulky applications on your phone,” Technode explains.
For the lucky developers who did receive the beta invitation, the Tencent message read, “We’re offering a way for developers to quickly create an app that can be easily shared and disseminated within WeChat, with an outstanding user experience.”
And Tencent is already showing off how these little web apps will be used. Under the “Discover” tab will be a “Miniapp” bar, where users will be able to open said applications — APIs available to developers include videos, GPS, data cache, log-on, graphs, and WeChat pay.
Not everyone is convinced that lightweight apps will necessarily do the trick for users. For example, Billy Chan, who heads the B2B liquor platform Foowala in Shanghai, told Technode, “For basic html functionality [Miniapp] works amazingly well. But as we’re increasing the complexity behind our features I’m worried the app within an app concept will affect overall performance.”