WhatsApp will cease functioning on all Android smartphones of the fourth generation starting today. These devices account for roughly 0.4% of the worldwide Android market share, which might seem insignificant at first glance but translates to millions of Android gadgets.
The issue arises from Meta Corporation's decision to terminate support for outdated Android versions on the WhatsApp messaging platform. The following Android versions are now officially considered obsolete: 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4. Google had already discontinued support for Android 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3 back in 2021, while Android 4.4 was declared obsolete in July 2023, a decade after its release.
Google explained its decision to discontinue support for all fourth-generation Android versions by pointing out that they constitute only a small fraction of the market, less than 1% of Android devices worldwide. Meta echoed a similar argument in its statement.
Although this percentage may appear small, it encompasses a substantial number of devices, estimated to be around 12 million, considering official data stating that more than 3 billion people worldwide use Android-based devices.
The list of affected devices includes smartphones and tablets from various manufacturers, such as Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG, Sony, and others, released between 2011 and 2013.
To determine the Android version on your smartphone or tablet, open the settings, select "About Device," and then check the "Software Information" or "Android Version" section.
One distinctive feature of Android is its ability to install applications from unofficial sources, not limited to the Google Play Store. To do so, you need to download the application's installation file with the ".apk" extension and activate it on your device. Enthusiasts have long used this option to create alternative clients for popular services, often with modified interfaces and extended features.
WhatsApp is no exception. Numerous alternative clients offer enhanced functionality. Some of them include GBWhatsApp, YOWhatsApp, FMWhatsApp, WhatsApp Aero, Soula WhatsApp, MBWhatsApp, and WhatsApp+.
Alternative clients often provide improved features. For example, GBWhatsApp allowed users to log in with two accounts simultaneously long before this feature was available in the official WhatsApp version.
In the context of Android versions becoming obsolete, these alternative WhatsApp clients are valuable as they are less controlled by Meta. This allows enthusiast developers to continue supporting older operating system versions. Some of them have already started publishing their versions of Android 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4 on fan forums.