WhatsApp will end support for Android smartphones running with Kit Kat OS version 4.0.3 or older and for Apple iPhone 3GS or phones powered by iOS 6.
The company is keen on bringing new features and focusing on latest updates than making the app compatible with obsolete operating systems.
Google recently launched Android Nougat 7.0 out of the box only in Pixel and Pixel XL phones and now other phones are slowly getting it. However, in less than a year, we can expect Google to roll out a brand new OS again, when several phones would still not have upgraded to Nougat.
Essential apps like WhatsApp had always been considerate in this and supported older devices running on Android 2.1 or 2.3. The time has finally come to bid goodbye to these really old phones and platforms so that they could move forward. Similarly, the company has decided to end support for older iOS versions as well. Apple may not be so concerned about it or its users because most iPhone users upgrade faster than the Android base which relies largely on entry level smartphones.
The official support for the app ends on January 24th, 2017 after which users running Android versions below 4.0.3 or iOS versions below 6.0 will no longer be able to send or receive messages. Most phones that still run on outdated operating systems are probably slow already but that doesn’t stop people from using them. Making their application compatible with underpowered hardware takes a lot of time and focus amidst all the other important beta updates. The company is interested in making the app work better and add amazing features for truly next gen hardware than worrying about compatibility issues.
An alternative choice is to release WhatsApp Lite, a version dedicated to old iOS and Android devices. Facebook app has a Facebook Lite version designed for users with older smartphones and is stuck with slow internet connectivity. It removes all the gimmicks, graphics and other fancy elements allowing users to focus on communication. Such an approach would help WhatsApp retain its user base and continue to support them.
There is no update on whether a Lite version will be released later on after the support for old phones is stopped by the end of this month.
A Twitter update has released the changelog of Beta Versions 126.96.36.1996 and 188.8.131.526 for iOS devices. If you have downloaded WhatsApp beta on your iPhones and would like to know what has changed you should probably read it in here.