Open Telegram and send a WhatsApp, Europe’s goal: this is how interoperability will work in the messaging application

In a few months, WhatsApp messaging will change forever in Europe: after being designated as a Gatekeeper, The messaging app must open to other apps to allow messages to be exchanged. Communicating with WhatsApp from Telegram could be possible, also sending an SMS or receiving communications from Signal.

Given that WhatsApp is a communications colossus in Europe, with almost 90% of the Spanish population among its users (Statista data for the third quarter of 2022), the European Union decided to regulate its access for make the application interoperable. That is, Europe requires WhatsApp to allow communication with other messaging applications; which will enable the sending of messages to WhatsApp from competitors such as Telegram, also in the opposite direction. WhatsApp has been working on this interoperability for two years.

WhatsApp users will have to accept the connection with other applications

Invisible Whatsapp Message

We already knew what the aforementioned interoperability would look like within the application: WaBetaInfo announced that WhatsApp would maintain a secondary inbox with all conversations outside your environment. Does a contact from Telegram send a message to our WhatsApp? This message will be separated from the main conversations, although we can respond to it the same as we would in a native chat.

In Wired echoed a conversation with Dick Brouwer, Director of Engineering at WhatsApp when Meta deployed end-to-end message encryption. Dick confirmed that the platform has been working on integration with the rest of the WhatsApp applications for two years, long before Europe designated the famous meta app as gatekeeper. Despite the difficulties in maintaining encryption in other people’s conversations, WhatsApp is ready to open.

All developers who wish to sign up for interoperability with WhatsApp will have to accept the conditions of access to the company’s servers in addition to signing a collaboration agreement

According to Dick Brouwer, WhatsApp prefers that messaging platforms that want to join interoperability adopt the Signal communication protocol to guarantee end-to-end encryption, but this will not be exclusive: the rest of the companies must demonstrate that the connections between servers meet WhatsApp security and privacy standards. The specific technical requirements sheet will be published by Meta next March.

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Developers must adapt their messaging applications to the requirements of WhatsApp and all communications will be reflected in an inbox different from the main one. Messages from Telegram, Signal, Line, WeChat and other platforms that wish to join will remain in that secondary tray so that WhatsApp users can maintain the conversation from there. The application will be able to interpret the code of the received messages, reflect them in the parallel conversation window and transmit the responses to third-party servers from WhatsApp’s own servers.

Third party apps in the WhatsApp application

Third party apps in the WhatsApp application. Image from WaBetaInfo

WhatsApp will not be compatible with other messaging applications by default; each user must agree to maintain communication with third-party platforms. In the words of Dick Brouwer:

“I can choose whether or not I want to be open to exchanging messages with third parties. This is important, because it could be a big source of spam and scams.”

The European Union requires WhatsApp to allow integration with other messaging applications, but does not specify the way in which interoperability should be carried out. Therefore, if we try to communicate with a person through WhatsApp using Telegram, and said person has not agreed to open up to other platforms, our messages will not reach them.

WhatsApp must be opened before March 6

The deadlines imposed by the European Union are clear: WhatsApp must support communications with other applications from March 6. Yes indeed, only in individual chats: for group groups, Europe allows until September 25, 2025 (with September 6, 2027 for calls and video calls).

We still do not know which messaging platforms will open to exchange with WhatsApp, none have publicly communicated their intentions. Since Signal and WhatsApp use the same communication protocol, It would be very strange if they did not participate in interoperability. Telegram, as one of the majority apps, surely also among; Even though their servers use a totally different protocol, MTProto. Being able to communicate with contacts that you do not have on Telegram, and without leaving the application, will surely be a great value for users of the app created by Pavel Durov.

Neither Telegram nor Signal nor other apps other than WhatsApp have the obligation to join interoperability. Furthermore, the requirements imposed by WhatsApp to access its servers are probably not to the liking of other companies, since must necessarily adapt to the requirements when from their platform they already provide a correct service to their own users. Will we see a future in which we can communicate with our entire agenda only with the WhatsApp application? This is what the European Union wants, although it will be difficult.

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Cover image | Edited midjourney

Via | Wired

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