To understand why developers at the F8 conference in San Francisco last month were disappointed when Facebook didn’t announce plans to integrate the program for developers, first you need an understanding of what WhatsApp API is. WhatsApp API is an instant messaging application for smartphones that operate under a business model. This app has a proprietary license to use the internet to send text messages, images, video, and the user’s location and audio media messages.
In January of 2015 WhatsApp API was the most used messaging app with more than 700 million active users. India alone has over 70 million. The popular app is based out of Mountain View, CA and was bought by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg in February 2014.
So, why isn’t Facebook jumping at the chance to add WhatsApp API to its bountiful offerings? Developers are clamoring for this messenger program and at the F8 Conference, any hope they had that it would be added to Facebook was dashed.
The main reason stated for not opening up WhatsApp is the need to keep the user experience pure from other programs. The reason it is so successful for so many users is that it puts speed, performance, and reliability, as the number one priorities. If Facebook, the owner of WhatsApp were to open it up to third party developers, users would probably receive numerous messages that they do not want, thereby tainting the user experience.
So why do developers want a slice of the WhatsApp pie? Developing new apps with chat features, picture sharing, sound sharing, etc., is difficult. Most developers avoid implementing these features because of the complexity needed to implement them. London based iOS engineer, Kevin Mindequia stated that, “having a ready-to-use
API or SDK would save us great time and money.”
WhatsApp could enable experiences that developers have not been able to create with Messenger. Even though Messenger is good at sending GIF’s, photos, emoji, and messages, WhatsApp remains on the minds of developers wanting to improve upon their apps.
While both Messenger and WhatsApp continue to build apps, and work on better connectivity and hardware for their customers, the powers in charge at Facebook don’t see releasing WhatsApp to developers anytime in the near future. Both Messenger and WhatsApp will get better and improve at a slow rate, and perhaps given time, WhatsApp will become available to the masses as a better means of communication, particularly in a business platform.