Are you on a holiday in China but want to avoid crowds? WeChat has just added a new feature to its platform that will make it easy for you to know which places are less crowded.
The real-time foot traffic heat map allows you to see the density of the people in an area, ranging from sparse (green) to dense (red).
Unfortunately, the feature is only available at the moment if your WeChat settings are set to Chinese and the WeChat app itself is downloaded from within Asia (It also does not appear to work if the WeChat app is downloaded from US store).
A quick search of the area near Tiananmen Square confirms that it sure is a good day to remain indoors, unless you’re one for crowds. A graph at the bottom also shows in real-time when crowds peak.
Last week, Alongside the iPhone launch, WeChat rolled out 3D Touch and improved the WeChat experience on Apple Watch.
It also updated its Windows desktop app, finally allowing video calling, a very convenient feature when Skype is buggy.
The usual areas in Beijing — i.e. Wangfujing, Tiananmen, Sanlitun — experience heavy foot traffic on a normal day-to-day basis. This function is fodder to add to WeChat’s all-in-one services, it’s more of a playful tool.
Baidu used data from smartphones with Baidu Maps, using its location-based platform. Earlier this month, Baidu, which runs the largest search engine in China, reported that 300 million monthly active users were using its maps.
WeChat, China’s largest mobile chat network, now claims over half a billion users.
In any case, there’s room to play around with big data and China’s map services, as Google and its map features are effectively blocked in the country.