Tencent builds a drone specifically for WeChat

tencent ying drone wechat

Don’t look now, but Tencent is getting in on the drone manufacturing business.

Dubbed the Ying Drone, the mini-quadcopter will allow its user to stream video directly to Tencent’s chat app WeChat. While it’s not widely used in Europe and North America, WeChat is a pretty big deal in the East and Africa, with over 760-million monthly active users.

To put that into perspective, Twitter has just 310-million.

But just like Google building its own hardware to service its millions and billions of users, Tencent is tearing a page from that very same workbook.

Unlike most drones from DJI and Parrot, Tencent’s Ying has a direct tether to the world of social via WeChat, giving it an edge in terms of content availability and proliferation. Usually drone pilots would be required to capture then upload video to respective social networks. With the Ying, this process is theoretically seamless.

Tencent’s Ying drone will be autonomous, and able to stream video directly to WeChat at 720p

Ying also allows users to capture video in 4K, making it possible to upload to other social sites at a later stage. Streaming is currently limited to 720p, but like the Lily Drone, Ying will also tail its user autonomously thanks to a built-in GPS. Users can also control Ying via its smartphone app.

Continuing the focus on usability, Tencent Ying is also portable. It weighs in at 425 grams and is just 22.5cm across, which makes it about as large as a netbook, and as heavy as a slim tablet. Thanks to its relatively compact form factor, it can be toted around in a bag due to a foldable design.

But perhaps the most important figure of all is Ying’s relatively low price. At US$299, it’s undercutting the likes of DJI and Parrot by quite some margin.

While other social giants, like Facebook and indeed Google, have yet to leap onto the drone bandwagon, this move by Tencent could trigger something of a social drone revolution.

There’s no word on if or when Ying will be available outside Chinese borders.

Andy Walker, former editor


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