With a month until the Digital Markets Act (DMA) deadline, WhatsApp is prepared to include alternative chat networks in its app. In an interview with Wired, Dick Brouwer, an engineering director at WhatsApp, stated that the firm is preparing to enable interoperability on its platform with over 2 billion users.
"There is a tremendous contradiction between providing a simple mechanism to give this interoperability to other parties and maintaining WhatsApp's privacy, security, and integrity threshold. I think we're pretty satisfied with where we've landed," he told the outlet.
The EU committed to include message interoperability in DMA by 2022. This law requires gatekeepers such as WhatsApp and Messenger to expose their services to other chat applications.
Meta is also working on adding support for more chat applications to Messenger. Initially, these experiences will center on one-on-one conversations, allowing users to share text, voice, video, photos, and files between applications. According to WABetaInfo, this feature will be accessible through a new "Third-party chats" sub-menu above the inbox.
Brouwer, who worked on Messenger's end-to-end encryption last year, said Wired that this will be an opt-in experience to prevent spam and frauds. "I may select whether or not to join in being willing to exchange communications with third parties. This is significant because it might be a major source of spam and frauds," he explained.
Companies who wish to be interoperable with Meta's system must sign an agreement, the contents of which are not yet available. To ensure compatibility, WhatsApp will require end-to-end encryption. However, Apple's recently announced revisions to the App Store may indicate that the conditions are not plain.
Matrix, an open-source communications system, has collaborated with WhatsApp on a "experimental" basis to provide end-to-end encryption. It's unclear whether other providers, such as Telegram, Viber, and Google, will to add interoperability compatibility with WhatsApp. According to Brouwer, third-party conversations and WhatsApp native chats may not achieve feature parity since interoperability might introduce additional privacy and security concerns.
Apps that combine various messaging services under one cover have been in the limelight for the past few months. In October, Automattic, the owner of WordPress.com, acquired Texts.com for $50 million. Eric Migicovsky, founder of Pebble wristwatch, and his company, Beeper, attempted to offer iMessage to Android phones, but were shut down by Apple.