Earlier this week, WhatsApp announced that it will be extending support for devices running an Android version greater than 2.3.7 until February 1, 2020.
Last year, they had announced that they were going to stop support for devices running BlackBerry OS (e.g BlackBerry Curve), BlackBerry 10 (e.g BlackBerry Z10) and Nokia Symbian S60 (e.g Nokia E5) by end of 2016. This made sense because as they continue to develop their chat application, they will be add more features that some of the older devices will not be able to utilize. So it didn’t make sense for them to keep trying to make the features compatible with the old operating systems when the devices didn’t have the hardware to use the features.
The 2016 announcement wasn’t popular among many people especially locally as it was going to affect about 10% of Zimbabweans. This was because in Zimbabwe not everyone can afford to upgrade a phone every year and keep up with the latest hardware and software. The new announcement means people using Android have around 2 and a half years to upgrade from the older devices which sounds good.
Even-though people now have more time, some features may end up not working as they introduce changes because some of these devices won’t be the main focus of support. By end of June 2017, Nokia Symbian S60 (e.g Nokia 5230) devices will no longer be able to use WhatsApp while Nokia S40 (e.g Nokia Asha, X2, C3) devices will run WhatsApp until 31 December 2018. Blackberry OS (e.g BlackBerry Bold), BlackBerry 10 (e.g BlackBerry Passport) and Windows Phone 8.0 (e.g Nokia Lumia 520) and older will no longer run WhatsApp after 31 December, 2017.
If you take a look, only Android and iOS seem to be the ones that will run WhatApp for the lifetime of the product. Here’s why it makes sense. Nokia came and dominated then it lost it’s magic along the way. Windows and BlackBerry tried to bring their operating sytems to the smartphone industry but just couldn’t entice people enough to use them.
This means that most of the marketplace for the near future will have people using Android or iOS devices, even the new BlackBerry and Nokia devices run Android. For the application to grow, these changes are needed as they help them build for platforms that people are actually using and optimize for them.