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WeChat Beats Google in Releasing Apps That Don't Need Downloading or Installing (mashable.com) 73

An anonymous reader shares a Mashable report: Click on a link in China's top messaging app, WeChat, and you'll be taken to a rich app-like experience, but without needing to download or install anything. Tencent, WeChat's maker, on Monday released "mini programs." The new mini programs work within the messaging app, and the early crop at launch include a Prisma-like photo editing app, a Pomodoro Timer productivity app, a flight search engine, and one for recipe searches. With the mini programs, the already-dominant WeChat continues its march to become practically ubiquitous on Chinese handsets, where people already use the messenger for real-life tasks like paying at restaurants, to hailing a Didi Chuxing ride. Last year, Google too announced that it would soon allow users to check out apps without downloading or installing them. The feature is yet to go live.
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WeChat Beats Google in Releasing Apps That Don't Need Downloading or Installing

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @10:04AM (#53641177)
    >> app...without needing to install anything

    Congratulations - you invented the World Wide Web
    • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @10:09AM (#53641195) Homepage

      And you still have to download it. At least once. If not every time you use it.

      • I think they either invented the Homeopathic download-- the less you download the more capable the software is or they invented Douglas Adams computer desk. The software just watches what you do, infers what app you need, and writes it on the spot.

    • ... but you download stuff all the time on the world wide web.

      Unless downloading means something else to marketing people than it means to me...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Probably means additional download, like a plugin etc.

      • Unless downloading means something else to marketing people than it means to me...

        EVERYTHING means something else to marketing people than it does to ...differently-educated folks like Slashdotters.

        • by e r ( 2847683 )

          EVERYTHING means something else to marketing people than it does to educated folks.

          FTFY

      • Downloading implies keeping data more than temporarily, whereas retrieving doesn't.
    • Congratulations - you invented the World Wide Web

      There is probably a tiny bit more to it than that; nothing new in running against an application server, of course, but I suppose the real story might be that networking on mobiles is now considered mature and cheap enough for this architecture to be viable. And, I don't think you can equate www with "application servers".

      • by Junta ( 36770 )

        Eh, we know what he meant, a modern web browser with javascript effectively being a runtime environment to produce applications that act pretty much exactly like a desktop application if desired. It's of course erroneous to say 'apps you don't download', since the apps are downloaded and cached, it just doesn't make a production out of it. Which is of course going to be the case for WeChat or Google or *anything* for that matter (after all a processor cannot run code that it can't read).

        I know that if yo

      • Congratulations - you invented the World Wide Web

        There is probably a tiny bit more to it than that; nothing new in running against an application server, of course, but I suppose the real story might be that networking on mobiles is now considered mature and cheap enough for this architecture to be viable. And, I don't think you can equate www with "application servers".

        My thought is that this is closer to how Citrix works. WeChat is basically the Citrix client...

        • by Junta ( 36770 )

          If I had to bet, I'd bet on browser embedded in the client rather than a remote video. You can do almost anything you could need in a mobile device using a web browser with javascript.

          A remote video solution would be utterly terrible (it's not even seemless on local high speed networks, over mobile networks it's atrocious no matter who the vendor is).

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      As I understand it, you still need to download and install the Wechat app.
      Their "invention" seems to be that the app basically includes a webbrowser (or something very much like it).
      So when they say you don't need to download and install anything, they mean that you have to download a new update for their app, which has extra code it installs, then it can download things that aren't technically apps and execute them using the preinstalled interpreter.

    • by thebes ( 663586 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @10:32AM (#53641303)

      At least credit the source for your punchline:

      https://xkcd.com/1367/ [xkcd.com]

    • >> app...without needing to install anything

      Congratulations - you invented the World Wide Web

      JavaScript was so cool that one of the creators of the company has had a hard-on for years with this dream - come up with a way to chat that uses lots of scripting and inclusions of scripts to make it behave in weird ways..... you know.... like the old IRC script days... but new!

      Sorry.. Just had to.

    • >> app...without needing to install anything Congratulations - you invented the World Wide Web

      Yes. And when ALL applications are web-based, and all of our computing devices require an Internet connection to do anything at all because all of the software we use lives on somebody else's computer, then we will be well and truly pwned by our corporate overlords. It absolutely blows me away that Joe and Jane Public don't see where this is all going, even when it's explained to them in very basic terms. As a result of software-as-a-service and a burgeoning IoT that includes automobiles, lights, and refrig

      • So even battery backup and local power sources won't be able to prevent the powers-that-be from remotely 'pulling the plug' on a large percentage of the developed world.

        No: the millennium bug all over again!

    • I think it was about two years ago that W3C and Smartphone manufacturers standardized (mostly) and implemented the facilities necessary for web pages to work as apps. I programmed one that long ago and somehow never thought to claim credit for the invention on Slashdot :-)

      As far as I can tell, there is little need for pre-installed apps any longer, or mobile sites.

      I am not a tremendous fan of the graft of Javascript and a programmable DOM to static web pages as an afterthought. But given the way it grew, an

      • I'm wondering how they do it without downloads. Maybe the apps are preloaded on a SD card that is sold to them?

        • There really are downloads but you don't do them. The main page, opened normally from the browser, links to a cache manifest file. Everything listed in that file is downloaded and long term cached by the browser. From then on you have the app in local storage. If you save the front page to the desktop, it gets an app icon and opens full screen in an undecorated browser (no URL bar, etc.) and looks just like any other app.
    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      or dlopen()

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @10:26AM (#53641265)
    But will they beat them in withdrawing support? Google are still the fastest at this.
  • It's called 'Chrome' (as others have pointed out).

    What Google *specifically* promised was run an application without installing under android. I presume we are talking about a read chunks of the application on demand rather than requiring the whole thing to download in advance, so the application would think the device just has *really* slow storage for accessing the application payload.

    However it could be as simple as changing the UI to make the download be invisible to the user (which is how web apps wor

  • But do I still have to load it into RAM before I can run it?

  • "WeChat Beats Google in Releasing Apps That Don't Need Downloading or Installing"

    A chatroom that doesn't require downloading anything? Whoop de fuckin' doo....1998 called and wants their chatroom back.

    This is the most retarded "news" in months. In other words they "invented" something that's been around for almost 20 years.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      WeChat isn't IRC - it's a platform on which basically everything runs that's your typical user in China regularly uses. There's a reason TenCent is as big as Alibaba.

      • WeChat isn't IRC - it's a platform on which basically everything runs that's your typical user in China regularly uses. There's a reason TenCent is as big as Alibaba.

        Whatever WeChat may be, I was using chatrooms that didn't require downloading or installing any app almost 20 years ago. An HTML page with a couple of frames and some javascript was all it took.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Yeah, but WeChat is effectively FaceBook. It's a platform on which lots of apps run, not just chat.

          • Yeah, but WeChat is effectively FaceBook.

            Sounds like another reason to avoid it like the plague.

            • by lgw ( 121541 )

              It's China. If you're worried about some large organization knowing everything you do on and off line, you're already screwed. But it gets worse. [wikipedia.org] Way worse than Facebook knowing you even though you don't have an account.

              People use WeChat for everything. An ontopic example is buying train tickets: today clicking the icon actually launches the web browser, but soon it will be an app inside the WeChat app. The "apps guy" would be proud.

  • How is this different from Discord or any other web application that has existed for the last 15 years? I feel like there's some key piece I'm missing to make sense of how this isn't a totally bullshit article.
  • What could possibly go wrong.
  • X already did this like what, 30, 40 years ago?

  • There's a name for the only apps that don't need to be installed and downloaded. It's called bloatware.

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