It looks like the popular WhatsApp mobile chat app is getting ready to add support for taking messages from users of other similar apps. That’s according to the latest Android beta version of the app, which has added a new section designed for that purpose.
According to WABetainfo, the new 18.104.22.168. WhatsApp Android beta shows a new “Third-party chats” section. However, this part of the app is currently non-functional. It’s almost certainly a placeholder for adding a new feature that will allow users of similar messaging apps to send texts to WhatsApp users.
The new section is likely being developed thanks to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The laws, which were put in place in 2022, were created to designate certain ubiquitous online apps and services as “gatekeepers”. These gatekeepers must “allow third parties to inter-operate with the gatekeeper’s own services in certain specific situations.”
Earlier this month, the European Commission named six companies and 22 services as digital gatekeepers. One of the companies was Meta, and one of those services was WhatsApp. It and the other apps that have been named to this list must comply with the DAM within six months. That’s likely why this new section has now appeared in the WhatsApp Android beta.
There are still some questions about how this new third-party chat will actually work in WhatsApp. One feature that many users like about the service is its end-to-end encryption of messages. Adding access to third-party chats, some of which may not employ that kind of security, could be an issue.
Also, we don’t know yet if WhatsApp support for third-party chats will be just for EU users, or if Meta will extend this feature to other markets. Obviously, we will learn a lot more about this new feature and how it will work in the weeks and months to come.