In a few weeks millions of mobile phones and devices will not be able to run the popular messaging service WhatsApp. This is because as of 1st February 2020, the highly popular app will end support for devices running older operating systems. Apples’s iOS 8 and earlier, and also Android versions 2.3.7 and earlier will not be supported anymore. This closely follows the end of support for Windows Phone devices on December 31st last year.

The fix is easy, check your mobile operating system version and update if necessary. However for many people with older devices that cannot update to newer versions of iOS or Android, it will mean the end of using WhatsApp on those devices. If you cannot update your OS you will need to back up your WhatsApp data and restore it on a newer device. You can see how to do this here. If you simply want to save a chat and related media, click on the three dotted menu on the top right > More > Export chat.

The reason why WhatsApp is ending support for older operating systems is not clear on their blog post, but it is widely thought that security risks are the prime concern. Experts say older operating systems could have security flaws that hackers could exploit to gain access to users’ data.

There could also be another reason: WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for a whopping US$ 19 billion. In the blog post “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking” published in March 2019, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shared his vision to integrate WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram direct messages. The integration may not have been feasible on older devices for technical or financial reasons. This would save money and time focused on development for legacy devices which could instead go towards newer devices and software.