Developing apps for the Chinese market


Developing an app for the Chinese market is quite a new set of challenges. Simply translating your app into Chinese won’t be enough.

The first and foremost is the fact that China doesn’t have just two main stores like the rest of the world — Google Play for Android and the iOS app store (I’ll be disregarding the WP store for obvious reasons). China has over 300 app stores available to the public and guess what, Google Play is banned from China, but I’ll be covering all these things later on, so let’s get started!

A couple of facts to get you started

Chinese mobile market has some features that make it stand apart from other countries. It’s necessary to know these basics before you can start an actual development.

  1. As mentioned before, Google Play is banned in China. This happened back in April, 2017. There have been rumors about GP returning, but that won’t be happening anytime soon.
  2. Having plenty of app stores available, there are plenty of apps available throughout them as well, but there is no guarantee that apps downloaded from those stores will work.
  3. In order to promote your app on different app stores, you need to speak to each one of them individually to establish a promotion. That means 300 different app distributors, but no worries, I’ll be covering the ones which are the most worth talking to.
  4. Promoting your iOS app, on the other hand, has differences from working with any other app store.
  5. Every mobile or web business in China needs to acquire a special license. Depending on the type of the service you may need some additional documentation. Remember to consult on this matter before you start working on the app. It’s important to remember that this license is given to Chinese companies only and you’ll need a chinese partner in any case. All your servers also need to be placed in China.
  6. For new players on the market it’s also important to сonsider some payment differences. Every payment in China is made with mobile transactions or with help of electronic wallets. There is only a small percentage of people who use credit cards.

Best app stores in China


It’s a standard red (or other similarly-shaded) symbol that we regularly observe in applications that need updates, yet this symbol has no number composed over it.

Generally, these symbols show up in light of the fact that Chinese applications have many functions and services combined and the structure of each application is mind boggling.
There are a two implications behind these red symbols:

1. There is new content accessible at some place inside this segment featured by the symbol. For instance, you can regularly observe such symbols in news feeds/social networks.

2. There are new functions available. In such case, close to the component, you’ll see some other button showing its novelty.

In China such red symbols can be utilized together with number symbols. In such cases the number symbol is principle and demonstrates the new highlights that the user needs to introduce to keep utilizing this application

Voice > Text

Chinese individuals utilize numerous different techniques to enter symbolic representations. Strategies shift by time and place of birth of each user. The most popular one is Pinyin — type of writing based on latin characters that creates hieroglyphs after inserting some parts of it.

There is another intriguing kind of content inclusion. Some applications offer you to sort latin words in Search and its shows you the word in Chinese. Such applications utilize heuristic calculations to offer you different substitutions in the event of incorrect spelling.

In China you can easily use voice messages, voice search and chats instead.

In other countries, voice messaging isn’t as spread as it is in China. Russians, for example, feel awkward when they have to answer voice messages, particularly when in crowded places. In China, it’s much more simple. You can regularly observe a man who has a telephone over his mouth while squeezing the ‘Record’ button with his finger.

People in China love using voice while chatting in various messengers like WeChat (analogue of Facebook and Snapchat at the same time). By adding this function every app also add older generations, who don’t know much about various text insertion options, to their audience.

Voice search is also available in most of the apps. For example, Baidu mentions that 10% of search over their platform is made with voice.


Ivan Černja

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