WhatsApp has confirmed it will soon work with other messaging platforms (Picture: Getty)
Well, sometime soon, not quite yet.
Still, the fact WhatsApp has officially confirmed it is working on interoperability following a leak by WABetaInfo is huge. The update will be a bona fide gamechanger.
No more hunting through all your apps for the last message from a friend or that picture they sent you weeks ago. They’ll all be there on WhatsApp. As long as they were sent on Facebook Messenger, for now, and maybe one day Telegram or Signal one day.
Old-school text messages won’t be included, nor will iMessage – at this stage.
That’s because the move by WhatsApp isn’t entirely just to make users’ lives easier. It follows a new EU law requiring the biggest messaging apps to interact with each other. iMessage is still under consideration.
The law also specifies that end-to-end encryption must be maintained for users even across platforms, and that they must opt-in to the function, rather than apps having automatic access.
A leaked screenshot of the function in beta testing (Picture: WABetaInfo)
Speaking to Wired, Dick Brouwer, an engineering director at WhatsApp, said: ‘There’s real tension between offering an easy way to offer this interoperability to third parties while at the same time preserving the WhatsApp privacy, security, and integrity bar.
‘I think we’re pretty happy with where we’ve landed.’
The function is still in beta testing, but a leaked screenshot shows a ‘third-party chats’ box in the main message menu.
It seems there are still some security and privacy issues still to be overcome – a spokesperson for Swiss messaging app Threema told Wired the system did not yet meet its standards – but the app has just six weeks to go until the EU’s deadline for interoperability.
When launched, it is expected the app will focus on secure direct messaging, including images, voice notes and videos. Groups and calls will be a long way down the line.
Nevertheless, exciting times lie ahead.
Breaking the news, the WABetaInfo team said: ‘Interoperability enables someone on a different messaging app, like Signal, to send messages to a WhatsApp user, even without a WhatsApp account. This facilitates more inclusive and diverse communication channels, enhancing the overall user experience.’
As always, WhatsApp has been busy testing and releasing additions to its mobile and desktop products.
Last month it was revealed that Chat Lock is coming to the desktop version, meaning users can now enjoy NSFW messages, well, at work.
And in excellent news for Android formatting nerds, quotes, bullet points and number lists are finally coming to WhatsApp.