WhatsApp, the popular messaging platform, continues to enhance its user experience with regular feature updates. The latest WhatsApp for Android beta update (version 184.108.40.206) introduces an intriguing addition: a screen labeled “Third-party Chats.” This development suggests that WhatsApp is working on a feature that will enable its users to communicate with other messaging apps in the future.
Exploring the “Third-Party Chats” Screen:
- The new screen labeled “Third-party Chats” is currently non-functional and inaccessible to users.
- While it doesn’t provide any active functionality yet, its name implies that WhatsApp is taking initial steps toward enabling cross-platform compatibility with Meta’s encrypted messaging app.
Implications of Cross-Platform Compatibility:
- The beta release comes following the European Commission’s recent classification of Meta as a “gatekeeper” under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).
- The DMA mandates that WhatsApp establishes interoperability with Third-Party messaging apps by March 2024.
- The DMA’s primary goal is to prevent gatekeepers from imposing unfair conditions and ensure access to essential digital services.
Interoperability and Digital Markets Act:
- Gatekeepers, like Meta, are required to allow users to uninstall pre-installed apps and explore alternative app stores.
- Meta and Microsoft have expressed their intentions to create their mobile app stores in response to the DMA’s requirements.
- The European Commission is also investigating whether Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Edge browser, and advertising service comply with the DMA’s criteria.
Conclusion: WhatsApp’s upcoming “Third-Party Chats” feature reflects the platform’s efforts to meet the requirements of the EU’s Digital Markets Act. While the feature is still in development, it signifies WhatsApp’s commitment to interoperability with other messaging apps and adhering to regulatory guidelines.