With its latest update, WhatsApp users are finding a new icon app appear when they connect to CarPlay. A WhatsApp icon and basic on-screen app interface are now part of the CarPlay experience, beyond what was already offered by WhatsApp’s SiriKit integration.
You can’t browse a list of conversations, but you can tap on the icon to start sending a new message using dictation. Notifications from WhatsApp also appear in the CarPlay UI and users can tap to listen and respond.
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CarPlay is a technology being built into many new cars (aftermarket solutions available) to bring the most essential parts of the iPhone experience to the in-car display. It allows drivers to use features like phone calls, messaging, music and Siri safely.
To date, the list of CarPlay supported apps has been dominated by audio apps. WhatsApp might be the first high-profile app to support the CarPlay messaging integration for third-party apps.
Unlike making an iPhone or iPad app, developers do not have direct control over how their CarPlay apps behave or draw to the screen. Instead, Apple exposes a limited set of APIs for apps to describe their content – the system provides the interface.
CarPlay launched with support for audio apps. It also added integration for VoIP apps for calls on the go not through the native Phone app. In iOS 10, Apple added the ability for messaging apps to participate in CarPlay.
The CarPlay app for WhatsApp will be badged with the number of new unread messages. Notifications appear onscreen with the name of the sender; users can tap to hear Siri speak the contents of the message. WhatsApp also appears in the multitasking bar in the CarPlay sidebar, in the slot for messaging and phone apps. This allows users to quickly switch between tasks whilst driving.
It would be nice if the app was more capable, although a lot of this is dependent on Apple improving the CarPlay APIs it exposes to developers. However, it’s definitely better than nothing. Update to the latest version of WhatsApp to get the CarPlay experience. Now WhatsApp needs to get to work on an Apple Watch app …