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  • Monday, 26 February 2024
Chat Crossing! WhatsApp Goes Multi-App

Chat Crossing! WhatsApp Goes Multi-App

For years, juggling between different messaging apps to reach friends and family has been a frustrating reality. Imagine a world where you could seamlessly chat with anyone, regardless of their preferred platform. That's the promise WhatsApp is making with its ground-breaking interoperability plan.

Unleashing the Power of Choice:

For two years, WhatsApp has been meticulously crafting a solution to enable cross-app messaging while preserving its renowned end-to-end encryption. Both user demand and laws like the EU's Digital Markets Act have contributed to this historic shift for the app. With just weeks left before the deadline, WhatsApp is unveiling its vision for the future of communication.

Privacy First, Always:

"Balancing interoperability with privacy and security is a delicate dance," admits Dick Brouwer, a key architect behind the project. WhatsApp emphasises user control, allowing individuals to opt in or out of interoperability to avoid unwanted messages or scams. A dedicated "third-party chats" inbox clearly distinguishes these exchanges, ensuring transparency and user friendliness.

A Glimpse into the Interoperable Future:

Initially, cross-app messaging will focus on individual chats, supporting text, images, voice notes, videos, and files. Group chats and calls will be addressed later down the line. Europe's regulations only apply to messaging services, not traditional SMS.

Opt-In and In Control:

Brouwer reiterates the importance of user choice: "This is entirely opt-in. You decide whether you want to open up to messages from other apps." This approach prioritises user comfort and minimises the risk of spam or security breaches.

Beyond the Inbox:

The ultimate goal is to create a seamless communication experience. Imagine sending a message from iMessage to a Telegram user, all within the familiar interface of your chosen app. However, achieving this across diverse platforms with varying protocols and privacy standards presents significant challenges.

The Road Ahead:

While WhatsApp's interoperability plan has been in development for over a year, its implementation will take some time. Third-party apps need to sign agreements and follow specific guidelines. The full details will be released in March, with several months for implementation under EU law.

Signalling a New Era:

WhatsApp prefers other apps to use the Signal encryption protocol, which aligns with its own security infrastructure. Skype and Google Messages both use this protocol. Third-party apps will need to encrypt content using Signal and package messages in a specific format for seamless exchange.

Connecting Directly to WhatsApp:

"We believe the best approach is to leverage WhatsApp's existing client-server architecture," explains Brouwer. This means documenting the protocol and allowing other apps to directly connect and exchange messages with WhatsApp clients.

A Future of Open Communication:

WhatsApp's interoperability initiative is a bold step towards breaking down communication barriers and fostering a more connected world. While challenges remain, the potential for seamless, secure, and user-controlled cross-app messaging is an exciting prospect for the future of online communication.


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