WhatsApp is about to stop working on millions of phones.

Older devices are going to have their support cut off so that they'll no longer be able to use the free chat app.

Phones including the iPhone 3GS and Android handsets are about to stop being supported by WhatsApp's engineers. And when that happens, owners will no longer be able to send or receive messages.

WhatsApp first announced the change early this year. But it said then that it would be implemented by the end of the year, and so there are only relatively few days left before it happens.

The company has advised that anyone who has an older phone should buy a new one before the end of 2016. "If you use one of these affected mobile devices, we recommend upgrading to a newer Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone before the end of 2016 to continue using WhatsApp," it wrote in a blog post published in February.

It has since updated its post to confirm that support for BlackBerry phones will be prolonged until the end of June 2017, apparently in response to user pressure. At that point, every BlackBerry phone will lose contact with WhatsApp – even relatively new ones, like the BlackBerry 10.

But at the end of this year the phone will cut off support for the iPhone 3GS, phones running Windows Phone 7, and any that use Android 2.1 or Android 2.2.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp said at the time that it was making the move so that it could make sure the platform was more secure and that it could put a "greater emphasis" on new features.

"When we started WhatsApp in 2009, people's use of mobile devices looked very different from today," the company wrote in the February blog post, which was written the week of WhatsApp's seventh anniversary. 

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"The Apple App Store was only a few months old. About 70 percent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia. Mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft – which account for 99.5 percent of sales today – were on less than 25 percent of mobile devices sold at the time."

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