- WhatsApp has dropped support for Android 4.4 KitKat in its latest app version, focusing on compatibility with newer operating systems.
- Only 0.5% of the world still uses devices running on KitKat, making the decision to remove support understandable.
- The update is part of WhatsApp’s efforts to improve its product for current operating systems, including new features like multi-account switching and extra security measures.
WhatsApp is the world’s most used messaging app, as it makes both corporate and person-to-person communication easy and universal internationally. Because of its worldwide reach, it’s integral that the app is available to as many people as possible across different operating systems and OS versions. Not all localities are able to use Android 14 with the technological resources available to them, so some have stuck with Android versions as far back as Android 4.4, otherwise known as KitKat. Now, as we noted back in April that beta versions indicated would happen, WhatsApp has dropped support for KitKat with its newest app version for Android.
First released back in 2013, Android 4.4 was a marvelous success. It’s gone down as one of the most beloved versions of the operating system to date, and it’s still in use today by a very small number of people. As of May 2023, only 0.5% of the world still used a device that had access to the Google Play Store and ran on KitKat. The number has been dwindling for years, and after Jelly Bean (Android 4.1–4.3) fully lost Google support in 2021, it was nigh time for Android 4.4 to go the same direction with the release of Google Play Services version 23.90.99.
WhatsApp finally took off its KitKat chains to remove support in its latest version for Android. It’s the only mobile operating system compatibility change WABetaInfo reported is happening at the moment. Realistically, the cross-section between people who are still using Android 4.4 and rely on WhatsApp to function every day is probably quite small, so if it cut some extra overhead maintenance out of WhatsApp’s way to better the product for current operating systems, then that’s probably fine in our book.
It’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last app to end its support for KitKat. Dropbox ended its support for the OS over three years ago, and even before that, Android Messages — now Messages by Google — dropped its support for the old version in 2018. Even with all the great memories we’ve had with Android 4.4, the tech world moves quickly, and sometimes, it’s best to move on.
WhatsApp is updating a lot with its public releases for Android in recent weeks. The biggest stable release update of all is the fact that multi-account switching has been made available. It makes it easy to use more than one WhatsApp account on one installation of the app instead of having multiple copies on your device. In beta, not only are voice messages and stickers getting tested, but extra security could be coming in the form of hiding locked chats. The more updates, the better when it comes to the most used messaging service of them all.