Chinese tech giant Tencent has said it will release a version of its ultra-popular WeChat app specifically for drivers to use in cars, according to a report by Reuters.
The company is teaming up with China carmaker China Chang’an Automobile Group on the function. WeChat is China’s most popular chat app, with upwards of a billion users. The app will be integrated into upcoming car models later this year.
The voice-activated app will allow drivers to send and receive messages while driving. It will also use Tencent’s proprietary mapping software.
As it aims to continue expanding its business to cover services from many different fields, Tencent has made a lot of moves in the automotive industry. The company recently announced a partnership with 21 carmakers, including BMW, Audi and others, to help with connecting cars.
BMW has recently been expanding into China and developing autonomous technology for cars, aiming to be at the forefront of the technology when the self-driving wave hits the mainstream.
The company teamed up with Tencent for data computing and also a storage platform, because Chinese law says foreign companies can’t host Chinese data without a partnership with a local outfit.
The two companies will have a computing center in Tianjin by the end of 2019. In the meantime, BMW has been steadily expanding its footprint in the autonomous passenger car data market.
In February, the company’s navigation app HERE teamed up with Chinese service Navinfo to collect local data about China. Both Navinfo and Tencent have bought shares in HERE, so the partnership was expected.
Tencent has been recently seeking to diversify and put more attention on outside operations as its gaming business comes under increased scrutiny from regulators. “Tencent is committed to assisting automotive companies in the digital transformation,” said Dowson Tong, the company’s president of cloud and smart industry.