In today’s digital age, messaging apps have become integral to our daily communication. Among them, WhatsApp reigns supreme as the go-to app for millions of people. But it’s not alone; other platforms like Telegram and Facebook Messenger see heavy usage as well. Now, things are about to change significantly as Meta (the parent company of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) gears up to comply with new European Union regulations. In response to these rules, even encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger will need to play nicely with other similar platforms.
So what exactly are these EU regulations about? Essentially, they target what the European Union defines as ‘gatekeeper’ applications. These are powerhouse apps that boast over 45 million active users per month and belong to a company with a market cap exceeding 75 billion euros. Given its vast user base, WhatsApp clearly fits the bill and must now adapt to meet the EU’s demands.
Curious about how this cross-compatibility will function in practice? WhatsApp’s Director of Engineering, Dick Brouwer, shed some light on the matter in a conversation with Wired. He emphasized that users will have to opt-in to this new feature, indicating that it won’t be automatically enabled.
After choosing to enable this new feature, WhatsApp users will see a designated area within their app specifically for messages from other chat applications. This section will be distinct and separate, situated at the top of the main chat interface. The separation exists because compatibility with external apps might not offer the same level of security and privacy assured by WhatsApp’s own messaging system. Furthermore, any apps wanting to integrate with WhatsApp and Messenger need to strike an agreement with Meta first.
Beyond text messages, these compatible apps can also send other types of content, such as voice memos, images, videos, and files over to WhatsApp. However, more complex features like group calls and chats are not yet supported; users will have to wait a little longer for those capabilities.
In essence, this development is a big step towards a more interconnected digital messaging environment, providing users with a broader range of communication options. With WhatsApp working in tandem with other apps, staying in touch is poised to become more seamless and inclusive, even if the apps come from different tech giants.