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Whatsapp’s “third-party” chat support spotted on new beta release

This is a major step for the subsidiary of Meta as this interoperability feature would enable users of other apps to contact WhatsApp despite the need to have a WhatsApp account.

Meta-owned popular chat platform WhatsApp is all set to enable integrations with other messaging applications as per the six-month deadline period of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) set by the European Union. This latest order has been made by the EU considering that the Meta-owned app has been a gatekeeper service ever since its massive growth in terms of its substantial user base.

The EU indicated that the DMA would set rigid laws on huge internet firms that must allow consumers to connect with one another via various apps. WhatsApp is among the services that are compelled to follow the new rules as per the Act. A month ahead of the deadline, the platform was spotted working on a new section in the beta version as per the new regulations. 

WhatsApp Third-Party Chats Feature

The new section was spotted first by WABetaInfo which showed a leaked image of an Android device running Whatsapp Beta 2.23.19.8. We can notice a new, separate blank section titled “Third party chats” in the app. With this, users will be able to send and receive text messages and voice notes, images, videos, and other files across different apps to WhatsApp and vice-versa. However inaccessible to users at present, this section confirms that work is underway on this feature.

This is a major step for the instant messaging platform as this interoperability feature would enable users of other apps to contact WhatsApp despite the need to have a WhatsApp account. For instance, a user of a messaging platform like Telegram will be able to send a message to a WhatsApp user through the help of a phone number. While this may be seen to improve communication and also help small apps compete with Meta in the messaging app industry, this feature does raise concerns regarding the end-to-end encryption when receiving messages from users who do not use WhatsApp.

“There’s real tension between offering an easy way to offer this interoperability to third parties whilst at the same time preserving the WhatsApp privacy, security, and integrity bar,” said Dick Brouwer, an engineering director at WhatsApp, during an interview with Wired.

During the interview, Brouwer opined that “There’s real tension between offering an easy way to offer this interoperability to third parties whilst at the same time preserving the WhatsApp privacy, security, and integrity bar,” he said. Brouwer had previously worked with Meta in rolling out end-to-end encryption to its Messenger app. “I think we’re pretty happy with where we’ve landed”, he said.

On a side note, tech giant Apple too, agreed to support RCS (rich communication services) messaging on iPhones by mid-2024, after the company’s years of resistance to accept the change. Apple said that the interoperability feature will work alongside iMessage, which Apple assures will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for its users. With that being said, it remains unclear if Meta and Apple will implement this feature for users beyond the European Union.

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