Apple plans to release a software update later this year that will enable third-party messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger to work better with Siri, the company told Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman.
Specifically, the update will enable Siri to default to the messaging app that a person uses most frequently to communicate with a given contact. For example, if an iPhone user almost always messages a friend via WhatsApp, Siri will automatically launch WhatsApp rather than Apple’s own iMessage.
It will still not be possible to set third-party apps as default on an iPhone. Instead, the report claims Siri will decide which messaging app to use based on interactions with specific contacts. App Store developers will need to enable the new Siri functionality in their apps when available.
Currently, users must specify the third-party app they wish to use to message someone. Following the software update, a user could simply say “message John” and Siri might automatically do so via WhatsApp or so forth.
This functionality will later be expanded to third-party phone apps for calls as well, but no timeframe was specified.
In a statement, Apple also defended the competitive landscape of the App Store:
Apple offers our users an experience that is only possible from the integration of hardware, software, and services. From the very first iPhone, we have included apps to provide customers with a great experience right out of the box for making phone calls, playing music, surfing the web, and more. With every generation of iPhone we have advanced the built in capabilities for our customers with a few default apps designed for great performance, long battery life, seamless integration, and industry-leading protections for security and privacy. We have also created the App Store, the safest place to get apps, so customers can choose from millions of apps to find the ones that further enhance their iPhone. In the few categories where Apple also has an app, we have many successful competitors and we’re proud that their success is responsible for almost 2 million U.S. jobs in a thriving multibillion dollar market for developers. Our North Star is always to create the best products for our customers and that is why iPhone has the highest customer satisfaction in the industry.
More details to follow…