“While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don't offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app's features in the future,” said WhatsApp through a blog post.WhatsApp
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“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. 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 added.
Launched in January of 2013, BlackBerry 10 OS supports a range of phones like the Passport and Classic launched in 2014 and the relatively new BlackBerry Leap that was launched less than a year ago.
However, the just-launched BlackBerry Priv has escaped the cull. Priv runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and thus has enough juice inside to support upcoming WhatsApp features unlike those that still sun on BlackBerry 10.
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Unless BlackBerry ensures that its future smartphones will continue using Android as the base operating system, it will run the risk of being cold-shouldered by over a billion WhatsApp users across the globe.
Back in December, BlackBerry CEO John Chen hinted that the company may launch two new Android phones in 2016, but that the possibilities rest on the success of the Android-powered Priv.
"Depends on the Priv. If the Priv is well received in the market and looks like it is. There's a good chance [...], we will still focus on the high-end probably closer to mid-range coming out in 2016," he said.
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WhatsApp will also stop supporting phones that still run Android 2.1 or 2.2 as well as older Nokia phones that still survive on the Symbian platform. These include Nokia S40 and S60 smartphones.
Back in February, it was revealed that the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow is now powering 1.2 per cent of active devices worldwide, up from 0.7 per cent in January. While this number is set to rise with a number of flagship launches in the last month, what's startling is that over 35.5 per cent of Android devices are still running the old Android 4.4 KitKat and up to 23.9 per cent of all Android devices, or one in every four devices, are still stuck with the old Android Jelly Bean OS. The Android 4.1, Android 4.2 and Android 4.3 operating systems are powering 8.8, 11.7 and 3.4 per cent devices across the world.
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The fact that so many people still cling on to older platforms makes it difficult for app makers to introduce new security features and updates to fend off hackers and malware. But on the other hand, if WhatsApp continues to remove support for devices running on older Android platforms in the future, a scary percentage of Android users could be left in the lurch in the years to come.