TechSpot means tech analysis and advice you can trust. Read our ethics statement.
What just happened? Meta-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp has announced plans to introduce third-party chat support to comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) that's set to go into effect next month. The move is aimed at enhancing interoperability between multiple chat apps as part of the European Union's plan to increase competition between technology companies.
The news comes from WhatsApp's engineering director, Dick Brouwer, who announced that the company is working to roll out interoperability to its 2 billion+ users worldwide. In an interview with Wired, Brouwer stated that it was challenging to balance interoperability while maintaining WhatsApp's standards of privacy and security, but the company was satisfied that its current approach would help it comply with the EU regulation without any major compromise.
Once it's rolled out universally, the new feature will help WhatsApp users exchange messages, make audio and video calls, as well as send images, videos, documents and voice messages across multiple platforms. As reported by WABetaInfo, the feature will be accessible via a new sub-menu within WhatsApp called 'Third-party Chats.'
It is worth noting that the integration of third-party chat support in WhatsApp won't be available as default. Instead, users will have to opt-in to ensure that they don't fall victim to spam and scams. According to Brouwer, users will have the option to choose whether or not they want to exchange messages with third parties to prevent security breaches.
It is not immediately clear if the new feature will allow WhatsApp users to exchange messages with some of the biggest non-Meta messaging apps, such as Telegram, Signal, Viber, and others. Even if that happens, Brouwer warned that third-party chats and WhatsApp's native chats may not achieve feature parity, as interoperability could require new privacy and security measures.
According to Brouwer, companies wanting interoperability with WhatsApp will have to offer stringent privacy and security features, such as end-to-end encryption, for their own apps. It is part of Meta's plans to ensure that its users retain their privacy and online security even while complying with the new regulation.