WeChat has been testing a new feature in the Guangzhou area that allows users to find restaurants nearby in a similar fashion to its current “People Nearby” function. In its test area, this new function is available as a top level feature, accessible on the same screen as WeChat Moments, People Nearby, and Mini-Programs.
On January 7th, WeChat officially issued a document announcing that it started beta testing the new feature. Zhixiao Program, an IT R&D company, published an article shortly thereafter giving us a sneak peek at what it looks like. Here’s a quick summary of some of the highlights.
The new feature has three menu options at the bottom: the food circle, restaurants, and me. When you first open the “Restaurants nearby” feature, you’ll see the “Find a restaurant” page, which is divided into three parts: search restaurants, browse restaurant list, and a recommend feature.
You can browse restaurants by themes; such as dating restaurants, Michelin plate award, non spicy, hidden gems, dessert shops, etc. Once in a particular theme, users can continue to browse and sort based on cuisine, price and location. As for the recommend feature, it seems to randomly recommend a restaurant. It is still unclear exactly how the recommendations are made.
The food circle page seems to show restaurants that have been praised by people in your circle of friends. Users can also see the restaurants that friends want to try, the cuisine, the price per person, the impressions and comments of their friends. When users share photos/videos of their experience with the restaurant, they can choose whether they should be visible only to their friends or to everyone on WeChat. The “I” page (or ‘me’) will show you the impressions you sent and the restaurants you’ve selected that you “want to go.” Clicking on any restaurant, will show you restaurant details; including business hours, contact phone number, restaurant features, user impressions, related articles, etc.
WeChat said that the “nearby restaurants” are still being tested in the Guangzhou area and will be opened to more regions in the future. If you are in the test area and would like to start using this feature, go to “Me” – “Settings” – “WeChat Services”. If it’s available for you, you’ll see it there; if not, you’ll see a “no services available” message. In the meantime, if you’d like to see what’s going on now in Shenzhen, click here.
There was no mention of whether this feature, or any of WeChat’s other search features; like Meituan, movies, tickets, etc., will be available in English. Considering how small the foreign market is here, we doubt it will happen any time soon, or at least until WeChat is ready to provide these services in English-speaking countries. In the meantime, this gives us another really good reason to learn how to read a bit of Chinese. 好胃口!