Text and voice messaging app WeChat has received an update that lets you make radio-esque voice calls. The update bumps the app to version 4.5 and allows you to use it for live voice chat, use QR codes for sharing group chats, and back up your chat history.

The ‘Live Voice Chat’ feature enables you to chat with a group of friends in a radio-like fashion. You can hold conversations with a group of friends using a simple, one-touch action. Tencent, the Chinese company behind WeChat, reveals that the app now functions quite like a walkie-talkie: only one person can speak at a time, but everyone can hear.

Turn your phone into a walkie-talkie

Turn your phone into a walkie-talkie

The Group Chat feature, WeChat’s USP, has also received a shot in the arm. You can generate a QR code unique to groups chats, which can then be shared. This QR code can also be used to invite new members, says Tencent.

The back-up and restore feature, which is an old feature in rival apps like WhatsApp, has finally made its way to WeChat. The app now lets you back-up chats with a single touch, making it easy to restore your chat history in case you reset your device or get a new one. Additionally, iOS users can even search within chats thanks to a new search function.

The company says that the app’s tweaked user interface makes it easier for friends to be discovered and recommended. “The new update is part of our endeavor to delight our users with the most innovative and best available mobile messaging options. The new Live Chat feature has been introduced based on user feedback and we believe it will be a great hit among users. We intend to keep improving the app with additional features to enable people to stay connected in a fun and exciting manner,” said Dennis Hau, Head of Product Centre, International Business Group, Tencent.

WeChat came to India in July last year and has already collected 300 million registered users worldwide. The app was launched initially for iOS, Android, Symbian and Windows Phone, and the company recently released a BlackBerry app too.

The app comes with features such as text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast messaging, photo/ video sharing, location sharing and contact information exchange. WeChat is supposed to be a secure and fast-performing app and comes with social friend-discovery features and an option to stream photo feeds from friends’ personal photo albums.

It is the first application in the communication space to offer a ‘Hold-to-Talk’ voice messaging service, which enables users to send voice messages at the touch of a button. ‘Moments’ is another key differentiating feature of WeChat using which users can post images or text and share content with their selected friends in a secure way. Location-based social (LBS) features like ‘Shake’, and ‘Drift Bottle’ enable users from any part of the world to build new connections.

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