New Year's Eve was WhatsApp's 'busiest day ever' for calls

New Year’s Eve was WhatsApp’s ‘busiest day ever’ for voice and video calls as Covid restrictions forced revellers around the world to see in 2021 at home

  • WhatsApp saw users make 1.4 billion voice and video calls on New Year’s Eve 
  • This was a record breaking spike in connections for the Facebook-owned app
  • Other Facebook services also saw a spike with 55 million going live at midnight 

WhatsApp had its busiest ever day for voice and video calls on New Year’s Eve – with more than 1.4 billion connections made by people forced to see in 2021 in isolation.

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp said there was also a spike in its other services, including group video calls on Messenger and live broadcasts on Instagram.  

The coronavirus pandemic and ongoing lockdown restrictions around the world meant New Year celebrations were more muted than in previous years.

The social network said it had seen a significant increase in video calls throughout the pandemic, as people looked to stay in touch with friends and family while in lockdown – and New Year’s Even was the peak for remote connections.

On New Year’s Eve the Facebook Messenger app saw twice as many group video calls made compared with a normal day on the service.

There were also 55 million live broadcasts on Facebook and Instagram registered, coming as users flocked to mark the end of 2020 with others.

Caitlin Banford, technical program manager at Facebook, said before Covid-19 messaging, photo uploads and social posts would be the spikes on New Year’s Eve. 

‘However, in March 2020, the early days of the pandemic produced traffic spikes that would dwarf New Year’s Eve several times over – and it lasted for months.’

Engineering teams had to work on new efficiency improvements to make sure the infrastructure could cope with the ever increasing demand. 

‘This year, New Year’s Eve looked a lot different, and we had engineering teams across Facebook’s apps, ready to support any issue, so the world could ring in 2021.’

As of January 1, 2021 a number of older devices – including the iPhone 4 and older – will lose access to WhatsApp, according to Facebook. 

The Facebook-owned messaging platform is stopping support for iOS 9, the operating software released by Apple in 2015.  

Non-Apple users with an older device will also be affected if their device still runs Android 4.0.3.   

iOS9 and Android 4.0.3 will no longer be supported as of January 1, 2021. iOS 9 was the last software update the iPhone 4 could receive and will be cut off

iOS 9 was the last software update the iPhone 4 could receive, with later models able to upgrade to newer versions. Apple released iOS 14 in September 2020. 

Models like the 4S, 5, 5S, 5C, 6 and 6S can all be updated in order to keep WhatsApp functioning on the phone. 

Android 4.0.3 was released in 2011 and replaced the following year. 

The move to stop support for older devices is a regular tactic of app developers which frees up resources to be focused on improving the product for the majority of users who have more modern handsets.  

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