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Introducing WA for Legacy iOS

WA for Legacy iOS

Introducing WA for Legacy iOS

Dit artikel is alleen beschikbaar in het Engels.

Bringing WhatsApp back to older iOS Devices.

Before we delve into WA for Legacy iOS, let's explore the driving force behind this project. I assume that (almost) none of you know me. Hi, I'm Alwin Lubbers, a designer and developer from Holland. I have a great appreciation for the design language of iOS, particularly everything predating iOS 7. The term 'skeuomorphism' is often thrown around in design circles. Skeuomorphic design emulates the appearance of real-world objects. On a broad level, it facilitates easier learning for those unfamiliar with software, but for me, it carries a deeper significance.

Skeuomorphism compels designers to invest genuine thought into their designs. For instance, if you depict a post resembling paper, considerations must be made on how to display comments beneath the post, how to animate them, and how it would logically exist in the real world and how you're going to create context. Present-day UI has taken a somewhat monotonous turn, frequently resorting to haphazardly placing panels and cards without meaningful context to the intended purpose of said panel. The comment section of a post has lost its meticulously thought-out nature, becoming just another sheet that appears without any intrinsic connection. While modern UI design is clean and unobtrusive, we have sacrificed the charming, handcrafted designer touch over the years, largely due to the prevalence of flat design.

I want to express my admiration for the remarkable iPhone's of the 2010s, and I'd like to use one of them as my daily driver at any given time. However, there's a challenge; the newest iPhone running iOS 6, the iPhone 5, is now 12 years old. Many apps no longer function, and the situation worsens each passing year. I've met a couple of developers in a legacy iOS Discord server, that are doing amazing work on keeping legacy iOS alive. Those guys gave me the confidence to persue this project. The positive response I received on my original Reddit post in r/legacyjailbreak has shown me that I'm not developing this project solely for myself. This feedback provides me with the motivation to continue the development journey.

But, enough about me. Let's dive in!


WA for Legacy iOS tries to keep up with the many features of WhatsApp. It sports a beautiful design which will make you feel right at home. We will support the following WhatsApp message types at release:

We use the standard WhatsApp checkmark system to show if a message has been delivered. The checkmark will turn blue if the recipient has read it. The 'Chats'-list, which is the first thing you see when you open the app, will show all your current chats and will be sorted on last activity.

WA for Legacy iOS will support the most used WhatsApp features at release. Right now, in the pre-alpha stage, we support:

Chats are beautifully designed with attention to detail, unmatched in current day UI trends. All of the new features of WhatsApp will feel right at home on legacy iOS. The design is a mix between current day WhatsApp and legacy iOS.

Bubble Customization
You may customize the bubble colors globally, or set a custom bubble color for that special someone. You can pick from 10 beautifully designed chat bubble colors.

Getting names with chats was a major challenge in the development of the app. WhatsApp normally uses the contacts of the phone that's running the official WhatsApp app.

WA for Legacy iOS will use the contacts of your legacy iOS device to show names with chats. When you update a contact on your iPhone, the name of the corresponding chat will change, together with the name that shows inside group chats. Thanks to this, you never have to touch the phone running the official WhatsApp app ever again.

Always keep in touch with Push Notifications. Just like the old-days. Push Notifications are even better thanks to the local contacts integration.

How it works

First, let's get out of the way what this is and isn't. WA for Legacy iOS is an app for iOS 5 and higher which is built from the ground up. It's not an old modified WhatsApp client or anything like that. It's completely new.

There are two options that you may chose from:

The Architecture

There are three things that makes WA for Legacy iOS work:

If you choose for the 'Host the Server yourself' option, you also need:

Why do i need a Phone running WhatsApp?

The phone is used solely for setting up your actual WhatsApp account. Once you've completed the QR Code scan on the legacy iOS device, there's no need to interact with the phone on which WhatsApp is installed.

Why do i need a Server?

Consider the server as a web browser with WhatsApp Web open. It manages tasks such as syncing data between the legacy iOS device and WhatsApp, sending messages, handling groups, and managing push notifications to your legacy iOS device. When an event occurs, such as receiving a message, the server encapsulates that event into a format that the legacy iOS device can understand.

You'll only need to set-up the server once, which is a matter of installing a package and running it. All communication with the real WhatsApp servers will be done by the Server.

You won't need a Server if you go with the 'We'll handle the server business' option

Frequently Asked Questions

Will i get banned by WhatsApp?
I will never say that you won't get banned by WhatsApp, but the chances are pretty small since we're using WhatsApp Web to interface with WhatsApp. Most attemps at bringing back WhatsApp on older/other platforms tried imitating the internal API that WhatsApp uses with their official app. Again, i'm not saying that you won't receive a ban, but the chances of getting banned are pretty small.

What about X feature?
I am trying to offer support for the most frequently used WhatsApp features, although some functionalities will be unavailable upon release. Notably, 'stickers' and 'location' message types will be absent. Video and audio calls are also excluded; although they will appear in the chat, you won't be able to interact with them. I plan to address the 'stickers' feature shortly after the release. Currently, messages with a location won't function due to the lack of Apple Maps support in iOS 6. Unfortunately, video and audio calls will most likely never be supported.

Will there be a Beta or Alpha test?
Most likely, yes. However, it's a bit too early to disclose specific details. I'll provide more information when the time is right.

As discussed earlier, i will offer two options: 'We'll handle the server business' and 'Host the Server yourself'. The former option will have a small fee attatched to it since requires server space to host the Server portion. Every server instance will live in a sandbox to maximize privacy and security. It also includes Push Notifications through the official Apple Push Notification Service (APNs).

The latter option will be completely free. A colleague developer is working on providing push notification support without me having to pay Apple. I will implement their solution into the free tier once they're ready.

When is the full release?
It's a bit too early to say. The timeframe hinges on potential roadblocks ahead and my commitments to my full-time job. As of now, my estimated timeline falls between April and June 2024.


Everything described and shown in this blog post is subject to change without prior notice.

This project is not affiliated with WhatsApp/Meta.

WhatsApp and the WhatsApp-logo are trademarks of Meta Platforms, Inc.