Chat and share photos with WeChat's Android app

Exchange voice and text messages with this popular free Android chat app.

For many smartphone users, the "phone" part matters less than the "smart" part; it's more important to be able to text message friends than make phone calls. The good news is, your Android device almost certainly came with a chat app. The better news is, you don't have to use it; you can download and use your favorite chat app, or try them all until you find one that's best for you. We tried WeChat on a new Android smartphone. Like similar apps, WeChat's mobile app enables text and voice messaging, and it can find your friends, too. WeChat also lets you share personal photo albums among users. New features include high-resolution video chat.

WeChat's interface opened with a cool shot of the Earth. The log-in page let us sign up for a new WeChat account, but (better still) we could log in via our Facebook account. The setup process involves allowing WeChat to post items (such as photos) on your behalf, enabling Address Book Matching, and entering your phone number for verification. The default country code is China, so don't forget to change it to your own country's calling code from the drop-down list! A message declaring WeChat "the complete mobile communicator" verified our setup.

WeChat's app makes excellent use of Android's functionality. A few swipes took us through an overview of the app's Send Voice Messages, Share Photos, and other features, including Look Around and Shake, a tool for finding and notifying friends. The Chat tool itself is simple in layout and controls, just like it should be. We tapped a large green button to set a Profile Photo using our camera or an existing photo. The app's toolbar let us manage our Chats, Contacts, Social tools, and Settings. Setting up a new chat app used to be a pain, but WeChat not only imported our active chats but made personalizing our data a cinch. A chat app that doesn't work well won't cut it these days, and WeChat holds its own against other popular apps, both in voice and text messaging. WeChat is definitely worth a look.

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