WhatsApp has reversed its plan to switch off support for older phones. But only sort of.
The company has said that BlackBerry devices will be spared from the switch-off. But that will only last until July this year, when it will actually happen and WhatsApp will stop working on any phone running BlackBerry OS.
WhatsApp announced earlier this year that it would be turning off support for older phones – including the iPhone 3GS, phones running Android 2.1 and 2.2 and many Nokias. It said that would happen at the end of the year, meaning that millions of phones would instantly lose access to one of the most popular apps in the world.
Announcing the change, the company recommended that people just buy a newer phone if they wanted the service to keep working. It said that it had made the decision so that it could keep adding new features to WhatsApp and to make sure that it could add new security updates.
"This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp," the blog post read. "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."
Now – apparently in response to criticism – the company has said that it will exempt some devices until halfway through 2017. "WhatsApp is extending support for BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, Nokia S40 and Nokia Symbian S60 until June 30, 2017," it wrote in an update to a blog it posted earlier this year, which first detailed the fact that support would be switched off.
That will mean that the affected iPhones and Android phones will still be hit by the change. They are expected to lose contact at the end of the year – not just no longer getting updates to the app, but losing their ability to read or send messages at all.
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