WhatsApp is testing the feature that could open the app to other messaging apps.
WhatsApp is reportedly preparing to comply with EU laws requiring chat interoperability. The latest WhatsApp beta contains a new screen called Third-Party Chats that may allow it to work with other messaging apps, WaBetaInfo reported. While the page is blank, its presence could signal that WhatsApp is preparing such a feature to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).
What WhatsApp is up to
In July, the EU announced that seven giant tech “gatekeepers” with a turnover of more than $7.5 billion — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, TikTok owner ByteDance, Meta, Microsoft and Samsung — must comply with all new rules of the EU digital market. A key tenet of the DMA is that gatekeepers are prohibited from favoring their own services and must allow interoperability with third parties. Last week, the EU Commission designated key apps subject to the rules, including messaging apps Meta, WhatsApp and Messenger.
That means Meta needs to make WhatsApp work with other third-party messaging apps like Signal and Telegram starting in March 2024. This will allow users of those apps to contact people on WhatsApp even if they don’t have a WhatsApp account . There’s no word yet on what kind of cross-messaging features will be available, though end-to-end encryption is expected to be retained, according to WaBetaInfo.
Apple’s iMessage app is not (yet) one of the 22 key services mentioned in the DMA, so Google’s dream of having Apple support RCS messaging may not happen anytime soon. However, the App Store will be affected. Apple will reportedly allow third-party app stores and sideloading in iOS 17, and both Microsoft and Epic Games are preparing their own stores for iOS mobile apps. We may learn more about that today (September 12) at Apple’s iPhone 15 event, when it will take the wraps off iOS 17.