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Rather than fumbling with a tiny pixelated keyboard, users simply press a button and speak.

Typos are an impossibility, because the recipient gets a recording, not text.

“Chinese and Taiwanese express themselves very differently,” Thomas Luo, founder of Pingwest, one of China’s leading tech blogs, told Quartz. But Taiwanese people are more quiet.” Beyond culture, China’s internet users have long been accustomed to talking to each other online.

In the mid-2000s, when the nation’s internet cafes weren’t struggling like they are today, online gamers would scheme with one another late into the night.

In some cases, one’s educational background will even dictate how to send voice messages.

“People that aren’t very well-educated will use voice messages no matter what, whether the sentences are long or only one second,” says Luo.

Step on a Beijing subway and you’ll see people barking into their phones intermittently, as if they’re using walkie-talkies.Whats App has over 70 million users there, but most of them cling to text messages.In Argentina, on the other hand, push-to-talk has supplanted text messaging for its Whats App-addicted youth—even though Spanish is relatively simple to type out.“But middle-class or well-educated people will send voice messages if they want to say something that is informal but also complicated.If it’s simple, they’ll just type.” Culture, language, and internet history partially explain push-to-talk’s popularity in China.But why it takes off or fails in other countries is sometimes a puzzle.


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