WhatsApp has announced that its messaging app will no longer work on outdated operating systems, which is a change that could affect millions of smartphone users.
Android versions 2.3.7 and older, iOS 8 and older
The change, which took place on February 1, means that WhatsApp has ended support for Android operating system versions 2.3.7 and older and iOS 8 meaning that users of WhatsApp who have those operating systems on their smartphones will no longer be able to create new accounts or to re-verify existing accounts. Although these users will still be able to use WhatsApp on their phones, WhatsApp has warned that because it has no plans to continue developing for the old operating systems, some features may stop functioning at any time.
The change is consistent with the Facebook-owned app’s strategy of withdrawing support for older systems and older devices as it did back in 2016 (smartphones running older versions of Android, iOS, Windows Phone and devices running Android 2.2 Froyo, Windows Phone 7 and older versions, and iOS 6 and older versions), and when WhatsApp withdrew support for Windows phones on 31 December 2019.
For several years now, WhatsApp has made no secret of wanting to maintain the integrity of its end-to-end encrypted messaging service, making changes that will ensure new features can be added that will keep the service competitive, maintain feature parity across different systems and devices, and focus on the operating systems that it believes the majority of its customers in its main markets now use.
Security and privacy?
This also means, since there will no longer be updates for older operating systems, this could lead to privacy and security risks for those who continue using older operating systems.
Users who have a smartphone with an older operating system can update the operating system, or upgrade to a newer smartphone model in order to ensure they can continue using WhatsApp.
The WhatsApp messaging service can also now be accessed through the desktop by syncing with a user’s phone.
What does this mean for your business?
WhatsApp is used by many businesses for general communication and chat, groups and sending pictures, and for those business users who still have an older smartphone operating system, this change may be another reminder that the perhaps overdue time to upgrade is at hand. Some critics, however, have pointed to the fact that the move may have more of a negative effect on those WhatsApp users in growth markets e.g. Asia and Africa where many older devices and operating systems are still in use.
For WhatsApp, this move is a way to stay current and competitive in its core markets and to ensure that it can give itself the scope to offer new features that will keep users loyal and engaged with and committed to the app.