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Shaking up the mobile Internet sector
By Zhu Shenshen

JAMES Brown shook up the world with his song "Sex Machine," which included the lyrics "Shake your money maker."

The mobile phone is finally catching up to Brown. New technology now allows handset users to shake their phones to do a variety of things including pay bills, find friends, share documents and play games.

Leading dotcom firms including Sina, Alibaba, Tencent and Dianping have all updated mobile applications with new shake functions. They help people use mobiles with their hands instead of fingers and the new technology also removes several steps in many processes.

Shake functions are based on the latest technologies like gravity sensing, location-based services (LBS) and near field communications (NFC).

The original steps include opening search tool bars and typing in key words or sending messages or documents by message or e-mail. Now, they are replaced by simply shaking phones.

Shaking is welcomed by many users because "capture" and "shake" are human instincts, according to Zhang Xiaolong, the developer of Weixin who is often regarded as the top product manager in the mobile Internet sector.

The popular shake applications can be divided into two categories - social shake apps and shake for features including payment and learning apps.

Shake for features

Alipay has a new shake function for people to transfer money to their friends' Alipay account, which is connected to a bank account. This feature is useful for people who dine out often with friends. Sometimes one person will agree to pay the entire bill by credit card and then their friends give them cash to share the expense. With Alipay's new shake function, all you have to do is shake your phone to transfer money to your friend's Alipay account. Alipay, the most popular third-party payment platform, now has 40 million users nationwide, supporting both Android and iPhone.

For those who dine out often, the website Dianping.com is recommended, which has many food and restaurant reviews. Dianping, which now has 40 million mobile users, has had the new shake function since last month. It allows you to find the most popular restaurant in your area and often provides discount coupons. If you are not satisfied with the restaurant selected, shake the phone and another recommended restaurant will appear on screen.

Another noteworthy shake function includes Kingsoft Ciba, an English-Chinese dictionary with a recently-updated shaking function. Each shake will push out a random word to test your spelling prowess, which makes learning more interesting.

Bump may be one of the earliest shake functions on iPhone. Use Bump to share contact information and photos by simply bumping two phones together. Just open Bump, and touch two phones together - the app will do the rest, transferring contact details or photos to the other phone.

Social shake apps

Tencent's Weixin is the most well-known shake application in China. It allows people to add friends by shaking phones together. Based on account connecting to Tencent's QQ chat, the country's most popular instant message tool, it has become popular in a very short period.

The application also features a match-making function. Just shake your handset to search for a random woman or man you would like to meet. The Weixin app helps you find other users in the same city or with similar hobbies. The Weixin application has been updated with a video function recently so you can get a better idea about what the person is like.

Tencent's rival Sina also has also added a shake function in its latest weibo service update. The microblog has more than 300 million users in the country. Through shaking, people can find others who are shaking and make friends. With a weibo account and posted content, friendships among users are relatively more serious compared with Weixin.

Shaking apps can also impress friends unaware of such apps.

FaceShift, which costs 99 US cents in Apple's App Store, is one of the best examples.

First, take a picture of a few friends on your iPhone. FaceShift automatically detects the faces. Second, tap the screen to add more face boxes, touch and hold to remove face boxes. Then shake your iPhone - the faces shift around and find a new body.

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