The maker of WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app with over 800 million active users, is set to launch a drone that live streams video directly to your WeChat buddies.
The Ying drone, first unveiled at the start of the year at CES, is now open for pre-orders in China on its own mini-site with a US$299 price tag. Sales begin October 30.
With four rotors that can fold for easy storage, the Ying drone has an integrated camera that can shoot 4K video – though the live stream will be limited to 720p HD. It’s cheaper than the recently unveiled DJI Mavic Pro (US$999) that’s also foldable and which streams to Facebook Live, YouTube, and Periscope.
A few more Ying specs: it comes in black or white, weighs 425 grams, features a 190-degree camera mode, can self-land, can fly for an hour on a single charge, and is controllable via an iPhone app. The onboard Sony camera can take 13MP photos. Inside the chassis is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight chipset, also first shown off at CES 2016, that’s made specifically for… well, the name makes it obvious.
WeChat parent company Tencent, one of the country’s three leading tech titans, made the drone with quite a bit of help from local hardware startup Zerotech. It’s a big boost for the small firm, which is far behind Chinese rivals DJI and Ehang. Zerotech last month secured US$23 million in funding from backers including Qualcomm.
Investors last year poured hundreds of millions of dollars into China’s drone-making startups.
No word on Ying sales outside China. Tencent has not yet replied to our query.
Converted from Chinese yuan. Rate: US$1 = RMB 6.67.