As domestic online applications and websites rapidly flourish in this day and age, we can confidently say to a certain extent that, whether you're Chinese or not, it's useful to have a bit of background knowledge in being able to navigate apps with Chinese characteristics. We all know about Didi as the Chinese Uber and Eleme as Chinese Postmates, but here are several more major ones that all play big parts in our daily lives, covering office, entertainment, social media, and more...
WeTransfer - CowTransfer (奶牛快传)
A staple for office workers, CowTransfer is the file transferring app of choice. Similar to WeTransfer, CowTransfer doesn't require you to download software; simply go to the website and you can uploading your content and pass forward a link to whomever. It offers decent speed and 2GBs of space for free, with the option to upgrade with paid membership.
Recently CowTransfer has also established new features including online viewing for video files and cloud storage for people serious about their file transferring.
DropBox - Baidu Netdisk (百度网盘)
Although you can directly use Baidu Netdisk through the webpage, downloading the app offers a more convenient service. This is the most commonly applied cloud storage software and although free accounts are available — at limited download speeds and space — it works best when you get a "super membership". 298rmb annually might seem like a lot but if you are going to be using it a lot or staying in China for a minute, it's worth it. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales on memberships.
Upwork - Boss Zhipin (BOSS直聘)
Looking for a job? Hey a person's gotta eat. I don't know if you've seen the Gal Gadot commercial for this website literally everywhere in this country but BOSS has slowly grown into the largest online career platform. Employers and companies publish their job openings and they cover everything from short-term freelance jobs to big life-changing career opportunities. Like any other jobs platform, navigating it is a matter of filtering your search. On the other end of it, you can also upload your own resume or create one directly on the site. It also features an app for more convenient use on the go.
Spotify - Ximalaya (喜马拉雅)
It's the Chinese equivalent to Spotify, the largest music streaming service and source of all evil in the world. Maybe. That's for you to decide. But yes, in China we're using Ximalaya. Meaning "Himalaya" in Chinese — maybe they're aiming for a mountain of content that's worth checking out. Audiobooks, podcasts, stand-up comedy, music, news reports, and even radio features all available. Their slogan: "everyday spiritual nourishment". Who doesn't need some of that, right? If you're a creator yourself, feel free to upload your work to the platform as well.
Gmail - QQ Mail (QQ邮箱)
Do you remember the first time you asked a Chinese colleague their email address, how confused you were when they gave you a string of numbers? Yep, QQ Mail is our childhood, our present, and our future. There's nothing special about QQ Mail, except the fact that literally every single Chinese person has one. Then again, there's nothing special about Gmail too. Simple. Utilitarian. Does the job. By the way, if you do use QQ Mail, they actually allow you to customize your domain name. This is the good chance to tell your co-worker to get rid of those numbers you can never remember!
Twitter - Sina Weibo (新浪微博)
It's Weibo. Pretty much a complete copycat of Twitter. Limited word count, celebrity updates, and friends' posts feed right on to your homepage. Expect an equal amount of crazy on Weibo as on Twitter but we're used to that now aren't we. We definitely don't endorse cyberbullying, so if you want to join the over one billion users on Weibo, be a force for good and share nothing but positive energy out there in the digital echo chamber. Or just do you, whichever.
Instagram - Xiaohongshu (小红书)
Named "Little Red Book", this app has become massively popular over the last few years with China's younger generation of social media users. The only social platform that can slightly compete with TikTok, Xiaohongshu has a unique and clean sense of aesthetics when it comes to visual design and is rapidly becoming the go-to platform for "influencers". So you know what that is: pictures and short vids of beauty, fashion, food, culture, art, all that stuff, you get what we're saying.
Also: the founder of Xiaohongshu was listed in 2018's Forbes "Women Leaders On The Rise"—very influential indeed.
YouTube - Bilibili (哔哩哔哩)
Borrowing the look and style of Japanese anime websites, Bilibili is without a doubt the largest video content platform for original creators and younger users. Like YouTube, it offers limited short video forms but unlike Youtube, there's no commercials whatsoever. Bilibili also checks Japanese anime websites in another key way: bullet comments that fly across the screen. These days, Bilibili hosts paying membership as well as free content, massively increasing the opportunities for both audience and artists.
Happy and fortuitous surfing!