WeChat, the popular messaging app, just stepped into fitness tracking. WeChat now has an option for people with fitness tracker devices or certain phones that can do motion tracking to share the number of steps they take each day and even compete with their friends.
All this is done by adding an account inside the WeChat app called WeChat Sports (search for 微信运动 in Chinese). It’s made by Tencent, the company behind the messaging app.
By opting in to WeChat Sports, the app can read motion tracking data from your phone that’s pulled in from gadgets like a Fitbit, Nike Fuel, or a Xiaomi MiBand. If you have a phone that can read your movement, like the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, you don’t even need a fitness tracker gizmo. WeChat Sports counts your steps and turns it into a social competition, complete with a daily leaderboard that covers all your friends who have also opted in. The daily leader (clearly not me) gets to choose the artwork that appears behind the leaderboard:
Your WeChat Sports profile shows your daily step count as well as a cumulative total:
WeChat Sports only counts your steps, so it doesn’t reveal more sensitive info like your locations or specific times that you’re moving. In my case it’s using my iPhone’s motion activity feature, but it doesn’t pull in info from the more detailed iOS Health app:
The WeChat Sports account is only available in Chinese for now. Due to WeChat’s huge user base – nearly 500 million active users at the last count – this might turn into a casual alternative to the more hardcore fitness-oriented social networks out there. We all need a little encouragement to get shifting, so a bit of peer pressure might help people who tend to be too sedentary (like me) to get off their ever-expanding butts (like mine). Read more…