WhatsApp testing a new cross-platform messaging feature called ‘third-party chats’
As per a new leak, WhatsApp is working on a cross-platform messaging feature after the EU confirmed that Meta’s instant messaging platform has to meet interoperability standards.
WhatsApp is reportedly getting a new feature, but it is not what it wanted to build. In fact, WhatsApp was quite against it. Interoperability, or cross-platform interaction has been one of the major talking points for the European Union's new Digital Markets Act (DMA) which is pushing to quash ecosystem lock-in and anti-competitive behavior. Earlier this month, the EU confirmed that Meta's instant messaging platform falls under the category of ‘gatekeeper' and must comply with the obligations of the new guidelines. Soon after, a new report highlighted that WhatsApp has begun working on a cross-platform messaging feature called ‘third-party chats'. This will enable users to text anyone on any other messaging app directly.
According to a report by WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is rolling out a new update through the Google Play Beta Program which will bring the version up to 188.8.131.52. And this new update showcases a new screen with a header that says ‘Third-party chats'. As per the report, this update is focused on WhatsApp complying with the EU regulations by “developing support for chat interoperability”. Also read: WhatsApp to introduce toggle to disable Instant Video Messages
WhatsApp testing cross-platform messaging
Cross-platform interaction is emerging as a discussion point for governments and nonprofit organizations as major tech companies with multiple applications focus on creating an ecosystem experience and locking in their users within that ecosystem. This makes it difficult for the user to interact with those who are not part of the ecosystem and download separate apps for each platform. EU defines such a condition as anti-competitive and has added an emphasis for companies to not participate in such behavior.
With the new feature, WhatsApp users can text a user who exclusively uses Telegram, Signal, or any other platform. This means users do not have to be restricted to the user base of a single platform and feel forced to download multiple chat apps.
Such interoperability will also put pressure on the companies to focus on the app experience to keep its existing user base and not lose it to a competitor with better features and user interface. Also read: Now, share WhatsApp HD photos and videos with ease as Meta rolls out big update
Google Chat is one of the platforms that is also testing cross-platform messaging features. But unlike WhatsApp, its interoperability is limited to other communication platforms for businesses like Microsoft Teams and Slack considering its use case.