WeChat rolls out ‘mini programs’ in a bid to kill off apps

China’s top messaging app, with over 840 million active users, is trying something radical. WeChat is today rolling out “mini programs,” embedded apps which require no download or install.

Tencent chose to use “mini programs” because Apple would not permit the use of the word “app”, according to Ma Huateng, CEO of the US$240 billion firm that runs WeChat.

After months of beta testing, many companies have these instant apps ready for use within WeChat.

“Mini programs are deliberately meant to be discovered socially through friends or in the real world by scanning QR codes. There is no official app store for mini programs,” says Matthew Brennan, co-founder of China Channel and a keen watcher of how WeChat is used by businesses.

Google showed off a similar feature called Instant Apps for Android in May last year, but it has yet to launch.

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