WhatsApp could soon let you directly message other apps like Signal

Messaging
(Image credit: Future)

Meta is currently working on improving WhatsApp’s interoperability by giving users the ability to directly message people on different platforms like Signal.

Evidence of this upgrade comes from WABetaInfo revealing the feature was found on a recent WhatsApp beta for iOS. The post offers very few concrete details, but enough that we can paint a picture of what the final release may look like.

An image on the post shows the Chats tab will have a new section exclusive for third-party conversations, storing all outward chats. Users will apparently be given manual control over this function with the option to disable it at any time. Additionally, text messages to and from third-party sources will sport end-to-end encryption to ensure complete privacy. 

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It’s unknown exactly how many or which platforms will be able to communicate with WhatsApp. Signal is only mentioned as an example.

Normally, we would direct you to install the WhatsApp beta on iOS to try out this feature. However, the TestFlight program for the platform is completely full at the time of this writing. No word on whether or not extra spots will open in the future. But, if you own an Android phone, you can join the Google Play Beta Program and download the WhatsApp beta from there. You might get the opportunity to try out the update. Google’s service tends to have more spots available for people interested in early software builds.

New rules

Although it’s not officially confirmed, WABetaInfo believes this increased interoperability is the result of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). 

The DMA, if you don’t remember or are familiar with it, is a law that was passed back in 2022 aimed squarely at major tech corporations. Its main purpose is to limit the amount of power these “gatekeepers” have over the industry and their users. One of the new rules requires companies that own a messaging platform (i.e. Meta) to allow people to talk to others on third-party apps. EU regulators didn’t like the fact these services function essentially like islands; isolated from each other and forcing users to play by their rules.

After the law passed, government officials in Europe gave these corporations ample time to prepare their services for when the DMA officially goes into effect. The EU will begin enforcing the legislation on March 6.

It’s unknown when WhatsApp’s interoperability upgrade will roll out. Given that the effective date is a little over a month away, we may see it come out sometime in February or very early March. Perhaps, it'll come out to Android first since its beta has been out since September 2023. Keep in mind that this is all speculation on our end. Things can always change.

Until then, check out TechRadar's roundup of the best encrypted messaging apps for Android of 2024.

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Cesar Cadenas
Contributor

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.