WhatsApp Will Not Release Public API

At Facebook's F8 conference, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton announced that the Facebook team has no current plans to launch a WhatsApp API to the public. Facebook acquired WhatsApp last year, and Facebook's "family of apps" was a major source of attention at Facebook's yearly F8 developer conference. APIs always represent a hot topic at F8, and Acton indicated that he has oft encountered such API inquiries.Track this API

"We don't want to inundate users with messages they don't want," Acton told the audience. "I am very empathetic to [the API] cause. I receive emails on a regular basis from people who want to run their business or want to run something using WhatsApp as the backbone for communication, but we're balancing that with User Experience."

WhatsApp exists as one of Facebook's many messaging platforms. The WhatsApp API-less strategy seems counter to Facebook's recent Messenger Platform launch. Unlike WhatsApp, the Messenger Platform was clearly designed for the developer community to explore and design new methods of communication via Facebook's messaging capabilities. For the time being, WhatsApp does not seem as if it will join the Messenger Platform.

While Acton's news might disappoint developers who had envisioned WhatsApp as an ideal platform for communication apps, WhatsApp is not the only tech company to reject a public API. In fact, while the API economy continues to expand, many companies (e.g., Netflix, Twitter) have scaled back public API access in recent months. Perhaps Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg shed some light on this trend as he described a transition in Facebook's general thinking in his F8 speech. A shift from "move fast and break things" to "move fast with stable infrastructure" may better explain why WhatsApp lacks API plans. Facebook seems to have a clear, controlled API strategy in place for its line of apps, but I would not expect the broader public explosion of APIs to slow down anytime soon.

Be sure to read the next API Strategy article: NASA to Release New API Catalog