It's the end of an era. Facebook's WhatsApp just announced that older Android devices equipped with the Gingerbread operating system will no longer be able to use the messaging app as of February 1, 2020.
Gingerbread constitutes just 0.8% of Android usage, so it's no surprise that WhatsApp is phasing it out. It's a little astonishing that the app will even support devices with this older OS for so long. It was previously reported that Facebook was considering killing off support for Gingerbread on WhatsApp in 2016, but these plans have since changed significantly.
With the reveal of WhatsApp's updated platform support plans, we now have a timeline of when older operating systems and software platforms will be cut off. In 2017, Nokia Symbian S60, Blackberry OS & 10, and Widows Phone 8.0 and older will all lose support. Nokia S40 will succumb to the same fate in 2018, followed by Android versions 2.3.7 and older — including Gingerbread — in 2020.
The blog post explaining these changes carefully noted that while WhatsApp will continue to work on the Gingerbread OS until 2020, it's not guaranteed to work well.
Because we will no longer actively develop for these platforms, some features may stop functioning at any time.
These changes will only affect the few who still use these operating systems, so it's likely that you'll be able to continue using WhatsApp for years to come. Although many WhatsApp users in foreign countries have slightly older phones, the global popularity of Android and iOS — 99.6% of all smartphones run Android or iOS — means that only those with very old Android devices will be impacted. WhatsApp did not mention plans to cut off any versions of iOS in this announcement, so Apple users can rest easy ... for now.