Mainland China is Apple’s second biggest market, and will one day be its first. The company is making a big push on the mainland, opening new stores and investing in home-grown companies. Why the interest? Because China is the new Japan — it’s where the future is happening. All this week we take a look at the cutting-edge apps that define mobile life on the mainland.
SHANGHAI CITY, China — A Chinese friend of mine recently started a fashion blog and asked me to take and edit some photos of her. We met up one sunny afternoon and I snapped various shots of her posing in a local park for an hour or so. After the shoot, we took a look at the photos together and she selected a few for me to edit. I took a crack at the photos in Photoshop, but she was far from satisfied.
“You barely even fixed my face,” she told me. “Just send me the photos and I’ll edit them on my iPhone.”
I was mystified. What iPhone app can rival the technology of Photoshop? How exactly was she going to “fix” her face?
China’s Photoshop for selfies: MeituPic
App name: Didi Chuxing
What it is: Uber with a twist
Owned by: The two largest Chinese Internet companies, Tencent and Alibaba
What it does: Didi Chuxing literally means “honk honk, commute”
Special sauce: The app hails taxis as well as private cars, and dwarves Uber’s operations in the US
Enter the magic of MeituPic, a photo-editing app that Asian girls (around 3 billion of them, according to the MeituPic app website) are obsessed with. They use it to edit just about any photo before it hits the public eye, and they can be seen all over town, slowly spinning around in a circle with their selfie sticks, shamelessly trying to capture the most flattering light and angle.
I downloaded MeituPic one evening and decided to give it a shot. The app makes Instagram and VSCO look like child’s play. While an Instagram filter can make a McChicken look gourmet, and a VSCO filter can make the dumpster behind your apartment look vintage and thought-provoking, Meitu’s extensive filter selection has been narrowed down to specific categories such as food, portrait, objects and scenery.
My personal favorite? The “latte” filter, which accentuates the dulcet brown tones of the latte art everyone loves to plaster their social media with.
Now for the real moneymaker: MeituPic offers some really advanced selfie-retouching services, including skin smoothing and lightening, acne removal and facial slimming. With another swipe of a finger, you can lengthen your legs, remove dark under-eye circles and enlarge the size of your eyes. I’ll admit that like many Chinese girls, I got carried away with the editing — by the time I was done with my selfie, it was late into the night and I was completely unrecognizable, although much more attractive by Chinese beauty standards (which strangely enough are Westernized features).
Up Next: China’s Spotify — QQ Music
Virginia Werner is a freelance writer, photographer and editor from Fremont, California with a B.A. in Journalism and Chinese from the University of Oregon. She currently lives in Shanghai City, China.