WhatsApp will stop working on millions of old devices as of tomorrow (1st of February 2020).
Affected users will have to upgrade their handsets to continue using the Facebook-owned platform. Users with old phones will not be able to create new accounts or restart existing accounts.
WhatsApp said the decision had been made in order to protect the security of its users, as it is no longer developing features and updates for certain older devices.
Although these operating systems are years old, figures from Google’s distribution dashboard show 0.3% of Android devices are still running Gingerbread. While this percentage may seem low, it translates to 7.5 million devices around the globe.
There are fewer Apple users running iOS 7; however, the iPhone manufacturer does not share percentages of its users for each individual operating system version like Google. But it does state 7% of all iOS devices are running an older version than iOS 12.
For those unable or unwilling to upgrade there are alternative messaging apps such as Telegram, Viber, Signal and WeChat.
Last year, WhatsApp preformed a similar cull when it withdrew support for the Windows Mobile operating system. Those affected were met with a dark screen when they opened the app and the words: “You can no longer use WhatsApp on this phone, because WhatsApp no longer supports it. Tap to learn about switching to a supported phone.”
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Justifying its decision to withdraw support, the company said: “As we look ahead to our next seven years, we want to focus our efforts on the mobile platforms the vast majority of people use.
“While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future.
“This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.
“If you use one of these affected mobile devices, we recommend upgrading to a newer Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone to continue using WhatsApp.”