In a recent update of the WhatsApp beta for Android (version 188.8.131.52), a new screen titled Third-party chats has been introduced, as reported by WABetaInfo. This screen is currently non-functional and inaccessible to users. However, its very existence suggests that Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, is moving towards enabling cross-platform compatibility for its encrypted messaging application.
This development comes shortly after the European Commission officially classified Meta as a “gatekeeper” under the DMA. This implies that communication software such as WhatsApp must establish interoperability with third-party messaging apps by March 2024.
The DMA’s primary objective, according to the European Commission, is to prevent gatekeepers from imposing unfair conditions and to ensure the openness of essential digital services. In addition to requiring messaging apps to interoperate, the DMA obliges gatekeepers to allow users to uninstall pre-installed apps and explore alternative app stores.
Both Meta and Microsoft are in the process of developing their own mobile app stores in response to the DMA’s provisions. The European Commission is also investigating whether Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Edge browser, and advertising service comply with the new regulations.