iMessage: Apple faces the challenge of the interoperability that Europe wants

Faced with the wall of Europe to open several of its major services to competition, Apple will still encounter the obstacle of interoperability of iMessages with similar platforms.

This beginning of the week, Bloomberg made an inventory of the major projects underway at Apple in order to comply with the rules of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). A text adopted by the European Commission at the beginning of the year and planned to enter into force in two years.

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Among the obligations imposed on the major Internet platforms is interoperability between their messaging services (WhatsApp, Messages, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, etc.) with smaller players. A challenge. Facebook, which owns three of them alone, including Instagram, still keeps them within three silos.

For Europe, these separations are no longer necessary and the user of a service on Facebook must be able to converse, exchange files or chat in audio/video with a contact person on one of the other services of this Facebook or with any of its competitors, big or small, like Apple.

This is a clear request from the European institutions, formulated last March:

During this trilogue (trilogue discussions between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission), EU legislators agreed that the largest messaging services (such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage) must be open and interoperable with the smaller messaging platforms if they request it.

From theory to practice there is a long way, and according to Apple, the subject causes problems Bloombergand we can assume that the same applies to its neighbors:

However, the company has not made a decision on how to open up iMessage and its Messages app to third-party services — another requirement of the Digital Markets Act. Engineers believe such a change could harm end-to-end encryption and other privacy features offered by iMessage.

At the moment, Apple will also not consider using the RCS protocol that Google promotes and which the latter absolutely wants to see included in iMessages (see also Google: without RCS, Apple is stuck in the 90s).

Communicating competing services originally developed without the concern of making them understand each other and respecting the security of exchanges is a huge challenge, specialists explained after the European decision.

DMA: the sensitive issue of

DMA: the sensitive issue of message interoperability

Everyone has done things their own way, and it is impossible for these companies to go back, for example, on completely encrypting exchanges. They’ve made it their password for years, and recently Apple expanded end-to-end encryption on iCloud.

This commitment will force everyone to sit around a table, while until then everyone has taken care to make their messaging system a closed space, and concessions will likely be necessary. But we have seen on other topics – home automation is the latest – that a collaboration – decided or imposed – between competitors was not unthinkable.

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If the goal of interoperability of messaging systems has been validated by Europe, the obligations to which the main parties must submit have not yet been decided, they will not be until next year. Construction has just begun.

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