WhatsApp to support third-party chats due to EU regulations

As part of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) antitrust legislation, big tech companies will be forced to change many of their services to comply with the new legislation. You’re probably already familiar with the upcoming changes to the App Store, but DMA will also affect messaging apps – and it looks like Meta has already been working on making WhatsApp compatible with third-party chats.


WhatsApp working on update to support third-party chats

As reported by WABetaInfo (via Matt Navarra), the latest beta version of WhatsApp for iOS includes a new section “third-party chats.” This section is hidden for now, but WABetaInfo says it will let users access chats from other messaging platforms, such as Telegram and Discord.

That’s because the DMA also wants the major messaging platforms to implement some kind of interoperability between them, so that users aren’t forced to download another app to talk to their friends and family just because it’s the most popular one available. It’s still unclear how exactly platforms will do this, but WhatsApp wants to be ready from day one.

Of course, for Apple users, the big question is whether DMA will also affect iMessage. The European Commission opened an investigation in September into whether Apple’s messaging platform would also have to comply with the new antitrust legislation. However, although things don’t look good for the App Store, Apple may have managed to get away with iMessage.

Apple last year argued to regulators that iMessage isn’t that popular in Europe, so it shouldn’t be investigated for antitrust. A recent report revealed that the European Commission considered Apple’s argument to be valid, although a final decision won’t be revealed until next month.

If true, Apple won’t have to support third-party chats for users in Europe. Otherwise, Apple would inevitably have to make iMessage compatible with other platforms.

RCS coming to iPhone

Apple RCS bubbles iMessage Android messages

One thing Apple has in its favor is the fact that it announced last year that it will soon add support for the RCS standard to the iPhone, making communication between its Messages app and the standard Android Messages app more seamless.

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is a communication protocol created in 2007. Still, it only gained traction recently when Google implemented RCS in Android’s native messaging app. It was designed to replace the old SMS standard, which is quite limited by today’s standards.

Compared to SMS, RCS supports messages with audio, video, and other file formats and is not limited to 160 characters. It also supports better group messaging, typing indicators, and read receipts. It remains to be seen whether the EU will consider this enough to exempt iMessage from antitrust legislation.

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