I got my Windows Phone 7 two weeks ago and I’m loving every bit of it, as does everybody who owns one. But high on the list of features/apps (same thing, really) most people miss in WP7 is WhatsApp, which according to its developers can’t be implemented in Windows Phone 7 in the same way as it is on the iPhone and Android platforms: Microsoft hasn’t yet released the necessary APIs to allow apps to access the phone’s address book (and that’s how WhatsApp “builds” its own contact list). You can read about that everywhere.
Now, if you know WP7, you know that its address book is actually retrieved from your Windows Live, Gmail, Facebook, or similar accounts. So how hard could it be to make WhatsApp access those accounts? Probably less hard than accessing the phone’s. Heck, we don’t even need such sophistication, let us manually add some contacts to a slim version of WhatsApp for WP7 and we’ll be happy! The thing is, most people using Windows Phones now already know the application and feel absolutely out of the loop without it, so WhatsApp don’t even have to “convince” use to use it once it’s out. We’ll grab whatever they give us. Some simple functionality that lets users manually enter their friends’ names and phone numbers would be tedious (really, not a big deal once copy/paste is added next week) but very well worth it. We’re that desperate, right?
Well, I contacted them last week (at firstname.lastname@example.org) suggesting all that and here’s their reply:
We are considering manual entry and we are considering google / yahoo contact integration as alternatives.
We just haven’t decided yet to pull the trigger and execute. Windows Phone hasn’t been a huge hit so far.
We’ll decide soon. It’s a leader in our list of candidates.
Hope this helps
So while it’s good to see they see WP7 as a priority, it’s far less encouraging that they do have the final say on whether they make WhatsApp for Windows Phone 7 or not, and they are undecided because it didn’t sell 1 million units on the first three days. It’s needless to say that WhatsApp would give it a big boost, since many people are hesitant to make the move yet for this reason alone.
But in my honest opinion Microsoft isn’t doing a very good job advertising the platform to the average consumer (at least in Europe) —perhaps waiting till they add a couple of features here and there— but its potential is undeniable and it’s here to stay. It feels like a perfect fit for the WhatsApp ecosystem, but then again, if it was up to me, I’d even have a web version of the app :).
UPDATE: Microsoft has set up a survey about Windows Phone 7, for users and non-users. This may be a good way of reminding them of their lack of support for developers like Whatsapp.
UPDATE: There’s an online petition requesting WhatsApp for WP7 at GoPetition.com. Last time I checked, Petitiononline.com was the site for petitions, but in any case, go sign it!
UPDATE: Microsoft has announced Contacts and Calendar database to be accessible on Mango (the next Windows Phone update expected by the end of the year), which could be just what WhatsApp needs to make a full featured WP7 version. Still, more than 8 months is a long enough wait for me to start considering getting some cheap second hand Android phone to use just for the elusive app :/