In a week Chinese all over the world will be celebrating Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, which is the first day on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
It’s a time for families and friends to visit each other to extend greetings, and the half-a-month long festival is never complete without the uniquitious red packet.
However, not everyone in the world is still giving out physical packets as one innovative company has turned the classic ang pau into bits and bytes.
It’s only apt that the company making the app is China’s Tencent. It has enhanced its popular messaging app, WeChat, to allow users to send red packets from their smartphones.
Unlike the physical version, the app is not limited by geographical borders – users in China can send money to anyone in the world as long as the recipient has the app.
According to Tech In Asia, WeChat users sent 1.01 billion red packets during last year’s lunar new year, which was a spectacular jump from when the service was first introduced in 2014 when only 20 million red packets were sent digitally.
Tencent has yet to introduce this feature in Malaysia but told Star2 it’s working on making it available very soon.
Here are eight apps to make your Chinese New Year a little more digital this year.
Chinese New Year Firecracker
We know it’s illegal to buy, sell or possess firecrackers in Malaysia but for a lot of people Chinese New Year is just not the same without it.
Thanks to our friendly neighbour Singapore, you don’t have to attempt anything illegal as the country’s telco, Singtel, has a novel solution and it only requires a smartphone or two.
To create your digital firecracker, visit singtelfirecracker.com on your mobile device – both Android and iOS devices are supported – and hit the Start button.
The person hitting Start will be the host and the one that gets to “light” the firecracker. You will also get a QR code – ask your friends to scan the code to create a longer firework chain.
Then line up the phones and fire it up for a spectacular show.
Grab (Android & iOS)
GrabCar has always been creative in its offers for the festive seasons. This time around it’s partnering with Ippudo to deliver the Japanese restaurant’s Prosperity Yee Sang to your doorstep.
The Prosperity Yee Sang, which is only available on Feb 3 from 10am to 6pm, costs RM8.88, a big saving from the normal price of RM48.
It’s made with shredded vegetables such as cucumber, radish and carrot – Ippudo is also adding pumpkin, beetroot, Japanese seaweed and deep fried ramen to give it a unique flavour.
To get your dose of prosperity, open the app, key in your location, select the Ippudo Yee Sang icon and pay with a registered debit or credit card.
You will also stand a chance to have your yee sang delivered by GrabCar’s Choy San (god of prosperity) who will come bearing mandarin oranges and ang pau packets.
WeChat (Android & iOS)
Yes, the red packet service is technically not available here but if you happen to have money in the app (which you could have received as a red packet) then you are one of the few Malaysians who will be able to send red packets digitally.
As you can’t really use the cash at the moment, this will remain a novelty factor until Tencent introduces the service here.
The main reason the app is listed here is because it now features a new set of Pocotee HouXiLi animated stickers for jazzing up your text messages for the festive season. Just head to the Sticker Gallery to download it.
In the Gallery you will also find last year’s stickers called Happy Spring Festival which is made up of cute animal characters dressed in traditional costumes.
Line (Android & iOS)
Line, the popular messaging app, has two new sets of Chinese New Year stickers for you to send to your friends and family.
The first sticker set features characters inspired by the classic novel, Journey To The West, as this is the year of the fire monkey. The sticker is only available for a limited time, from now till Feb 2.
The other sticker is Astro’s HoYeah which features the fire monkey in various acts. To download the free sticker set, you have to add the Astro Ben Di Quan official account. It’s also only available for a limited time – get it before Feb 10.
The Great Dumpling Adventure (iOS)
If you are looking to introduce Chinese culture to your children in an interactive way, there is an app just for that.
The Great Dumpling Adventure is an educational app that features an episodic story with interactive mini games to keep children entertained.
The app teaches kids about the cultural significance of dumplings, firecrackers, lanterns and the zodiac animals in both Mandarin and English.
The minimal interface is easy to use and best of all the app is free for iPhone and iPad.
Chinese Spring Festival Comics (Android & iOS)
If you don’t care too much about interactivity but want a more in-depth but friendly introduction to Chinese culture then try out this app which is even great for adults.
It features 42 pages of beautiful artwork with text both in Mandarin and English.
And unlike the other app, it’s also available for Androids.
Lunar New Year (iPad)
Georgia Regents University developed this app in partnership with the Confucius Institute as a fun introduction to Chinese culture and traditions.
You play as a lion which has to collect coins to help protect a village from monsters that beset the small town every Chinese New Year. As you complete games and solve puzzles, you will learn why the lunar new year is celebrated.
The app is only available for iPad.
Chinese New Year Wallpapers: Year of the Monkey (iOS)
What better way to get into the festive spirit than changing the wallpaper on your smartphone? This app claims to offer more than one million wallpapers for your iPhone.
We can’t verify the claim but it definitely has a large selection of graphics for you to customise the look of your device.
It even has filters and other options for you to tweak the wallpaper to your liking, and you can even share it with friends.
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