If you message a number of people across various devices, from iOS to Android, Windows Phone to Blackberry, there is a strong chance you do this through an app called WhatsApp.
Over the short years of its life, WhatsApp has grown into being a smartphone user’s main app to communicate with their friends and family. Unfortunately though, communicating whilst in a vehicle via CarPlay isn’t available in the WhatsApp app. But could it?
Apples own Messages app has been a feature of CarPlay since it was first installed in vehicles. Users have the ability to play back text messages and also compose them with the ability of Siri. With the iOS 9 update, CarPlay users are now also able to playback audio messages sent via the messages app, however composing an audio message back isn’t available.
If you’re a WhatsApp user, you’ll already know that these app features are no different to WhatsApps, so why are we not seeing WhatsApp on CarPlay?
With the popularity of WhatsApp there is no real reason why an updated version with the ability to sent messages, reply to them via Siri and listen to audio messages couldn’t get through Apple’s own review process. So there might be a few other factors we need to consider here…
Use of apps in the car is something Apple seems to be very careful with. They have clear rules to meet before an app is released on to the CarPlay platform. So they can’t allow any messaging app onto their CarPlay platform without that app proving to be safe to use whilst driving.
Perhaps WhatsApp are trying but their in-car solution isn’t good enough for Apple to release.
If WhatsApp was owned by Google, we’d have a clear argument for competition. But being owned by Facebook, we have to look at other angles.
Perhaps Apple want its users to use their own messages app and build reliance of using its own Messages app over any other. However, that doesn’t help when you have friends and family using other devices that are not iOS.
If Apple wants to remain competitive in this in-car arena, they need to allow other application alternatives to their own. They do it with their Poscast app, why not others?
Apple hasn’t been vocal about its install base of its CarPlay platform. Every iOS 8 device or higher has the ability to, and that is in the hundreds of millions. I am sure CarPlay has less than a million, worldwide. So is that enough for large, or even small, developers to invest resources in developing for the CarPlay platform? Probably not for most of developers.
There is a demand for more apps, but it’s from a very small amount of CarPlay users, and as a result we have a chicken or egg scenario. Over time apps will grow on CarPlay, more so during 2016 as we begin to see more new vehicles have factory fitted CarPlay systems, and I am sure many people are waiting out for Wireless CarPlay aftermarket stereos.
So will it, or won’t it?
I believe we will see WhatsApp on CarPlay. The real question we need to ask is, when?
Apple is playing this game very carefully. The last thing they want, this early on, is bad press from fatal accidents occurring due to drivers fiddling with CarPlay apps on their dashboard.
With the advances in Siri, general voice recognition and improved AI in managing your life’s wants and desires from your smartphone, I am sure we will start to see increased support in third-party apps, including apps like WhatsApp.