iMessage is not longer Apple’s texting app, it’s competing with the likes of WeChat, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger.
With a host of new features and its own App Store, the key changes are a nod to the fact that messaging has become a platform on which to build other services.
Apple announced a host of new features at WWDC on Monday, WeChat, the dominant messaging app in China, has apps, games, shopping, payments, and much more built in. Apple creating an App Store for iMessage will greatly expand its potential for the same kind of in-app experiences.
Payments and ecommerce is likely to be key for iMessage, just like it is for WeChat. While Apple has its own Apple Pay feature, iMessage will integrate with other services like Square to send friends money through the app. Apple also showed off a DoorDash iMessage in-app feature that lets groups order delivery food. Such commerce opportunities are known in China as “O2O” or online-to-offline.
Stickers, long a popular function in WeChat and later in other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Kik, will be available in the iMessage app store. Music and camera/photo functions will be better integrated. Video will viewable inline.
(Article first appeared in Forbes)