Earlier this week, WhatsApp finally dropped support for smartphones running on an outdated version of Android, months after Google rendered these older handsets obsolete. Starting on October 24, the Meta-owned messaging platform will only offer further updates to users with smartphones on Android 5.0, more commonly known as Android KitKat. According to a post on WABetaInfo, the minimum requirements for using WhatsApp will become Android 5.0 or higher.
Those with smartphones on Android 4.4 or older will receive a notification in the app asking them to upgrade to a newer device. WhatsApp warns that those who do not make the switch will no longer have access to chat options, including group conversations and media sharing. Users will still be able to use WhatsApp for existing chats, however.
The change comes months after Google dropped support for its own Google Play services on devices running Android 4.4, meaning it’s not a massive surprise that WhatsApp is following suit. However, it’s still a shame for those stuck with old devices that can no longer use the most popular features in Android.
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WABetaInfo reports that 18 different Android phones will lose support on October 24. The list includes the HTC Desire S and Nexus S, released in 2010. The Samsung Galaxy Ace and Motorola Moto G are also included on the list, even though they were released several years after the others.
This move by WhatsApp makes sense, as the Meta-owned company focuses on bettering its software for devices running on the latest versions of Android. It’s also possible that it’s trying to cut costs by reducing the maintenance and development resources spent on supporting older operating systems.
Based on recent statistics, only a few users are still running on Android 4.4. The last report from Google showed that the version had a 0.7 percent market share as of May 2023. It’s a few people, but it’s enough to push WhatsApp into making this update.
While it may be disappointing to those with these older Android phones, it’s important to remember that they still have plenty of options in the market for affordable smartphones. It’s not uncommon for the major players in the smartphone industry to phase out support for older devices as they transition to the latest hardware and software.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app globally, with a billion active users worldwide. In the United States, one in four adult Americans uses the service. Most WhatsApp users are white, followed by black and Hispanic Americans. In addition to messaging, WhatsApp offers various other services, including video and voice calls. It’s free to download and use, although it does have paid plans for businesses and organizations.