The new era of technology has brought with it a trend for manufacturers to create ‘use by’ products . And here there are two important aspects: on the one hand, devices that, although they continue to work well, remain obsolete and outdated due to the advancement of available technology and, on the other hand, devices that have a much shorter useful life than they used to have in the past. because materials of worse value are used for its production.
Electronic waste is a big problem, and we are the first responsible.
Where do all the mobiles that we no longer use go?
On this last point there is a great controversy, especially on the part of consumers, who see how qualities are lost and how products are no longer made to last as long as possible. Without wanting to be conformist, this is the cost of living in a consumer society .
Laughing, but seriously, recently an acquaintance told me an anecdote that illustrates well the problem of programmed obsolescence : a refrigerator was found from the time when having a refrigerator was ‘a luxury’ and it still worked perfectly … something that now we cannot even imagine with current devices.
Personally I identify with this story, because there is not a day in which my mother does not mention how good her Renault 21 was, which lasted 20 years, compared to current cars, or how well the refrigerator of the 90 that she had worked in the town and how much he lost when he exchanged it for a state-of-the-art refrigerator “that does not cool the same.” Well, part of the reason is, of course, because manufacturers today know how to do things so that you have to renew your devices sooner rather than later .
And then there is the fact that the devices are old, although they continue to work , and we are forced to change them for newer ones. Ultimately it’s another kind of planned obsolescence, but it still forces users to constantly renew their devices .
At the beginning of September we published a news that is common to see in the media: WhatsApp stops working on a series of smartphones as of November 1 . We say this is common news because it happens every time phone operating systems release a major update .
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So, the problem is not that those mobiles that run out of WhatsApp are made with low-quality materials and that they are going to spoil, but almost the opposite: they are products that are resistant enough to have survived at least 10 years , but they have become old and technically incapable of supporting the new technologies and advanced services proposed by the applications.
” WhatsApp, or any other application, stops supporting a series of phones because they cannot host the version of their operating system necessary to install the latest update of the app, ” explains Alberto Navas, application developer in a more technical way. Android in the technology company Hiberus . Clarify that this is the same as with Windows and older computers.
This happens because new versions of operating systems come out with increasing speed, something that Navas attributes to the need to “be up to date” in terms of services for the user . Although it should not be forgotten that sometimes it is also due either to improvements in performance or to cybersecurity issues and ‘patching’ of bugs that could compromise the system and make the devices accessible to ‘cyber bad guys’.
Recent iPhones have started to experience slowdowns and increased battery consumption with the latest updates.
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In this sense, the applications – the platforms behind them – should “release versions that are totally aimed at the latest operating systems available,” says Navas. However, app development companies know that not everyone has a phone that is technically capable of supporting that latest operating system update.
Here we return again to the subject of planned obsolescence, talking about products that, due to their components, could theoretically support the latest updates . The manufacturers justify avoiding doing so as it would be a huge consumption of resources and therefore the device would have a horrible performance. What happens is that, in addition, this incidentally makes it easier for consumers to be forced to renew their devices, in this case their mobile .
But not only manufacturers see problems in including old devices in updates, app development companies also put brakes. “ That the newest version of WhatsApp continues to work for the lady who has a 10-year-old mobile in the town and who turns it on once a month and for the university student who has bought a latest-generation smartphone is a great economic cost , not because of the second case, but because of the first, ”explains Navas. This is because the company would have to do a separate development to have backward compatibility with the phone in the first example.
Most of the old mobiles end up being forgotten.
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In general, as the Hiberus application developer indicates, large companies do not want to have to launch different versions for their users , they want to have homogeneous applications for all their customers. But sometimes the device that some people have has an outdated operating system – because it cannot install the new one due to the limitations of the device itself – and that operating system does not support the configurations required by the new version of the app .
So companies, such as WhatsApp, are forced to take out of their service a series of devices that work with old operating systems. As of November 1, all those who are prior to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or iOS 10 will suffer, that is, the messaging app now leaves out those who use Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich -a version that came out 10 years ago- and iOS 9 -which was released in June 2015-.
Less than 0.2% of users
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Although the news sounds alarmist, the truth is that the result does not have as much impact as we might fear. According to Navas, less than 0.2% of users have these operating systems installed and, probably, many of them will be people who have left an old mobile in some corner of their house or developers who have to have old versions to continue giving medium.
Thus, removing WhatsApp support for iOS 9 means that the application stops updating on the iPhone 4S and all Apple phones before it. In the case of Android, some of the models that will be affected have been very popular mobile phones, yes … although they were sold in 2012 and 2013. For example, the Sony Xperia Arc S. To this are added the Lenovo A660, the Huawei Ascend G615, Honor 2, ZTE Grand X Pro, and Huawei Ascend P1 LTE .
Therefore, the mobiles that run out of WhatsApp are not exactly the newest on the market and they are devices that few users already have.