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WhatsApp and WhatsApp Plus: the lockout explained [updated: ban-free WhatsApp Plus is back!]

After 72-hour lockouts ruined WhatsApp for some poor folks recently, a member of the XDA Developers forum hit back with a newly updated version of WhatsApp Plus, with ban prevention. That hasn't stopped WhatsApp from steadily shutting down various WhatsApp alternatives though, with dire consequences if you fail to play ball. Update: A permanent WhatsApp ban is now affecting some users.

whatsapp exclamation
There can be only one: WhatsApp takes down the clones. © ANDROIDPIT

XDA Developers member rip786 uploaded the new version of WhatsApp Plus soon after the ban was imposed, and while it will not remove a ban that is already in place, it will prevent you from receiving one if you do wish to continue using WhatsApp Plus.

You will need to uninstall the previous version of WhatsApp and Whatsapp Plus before completing the installation, but it appears to be running smoothly. This new and improved version of WhatsApp Plus also includes the Material Design aesthetic and the ability to "hide last seen" status, along with eliminating those pesky blue ticks, if you wish. 

We can't say with any certainty how long this version of WhatsApp Plus will be up and running for, WhatsApp is clearly eager to clamp down on the usage of these third-party apps, but we'll keep you updated.

Head below the break for the original story. 

Previous coverage: We previously reported that WhatsApp had imposed a 24-hour lockout on those users using WhatsApp Plus, an unauthorized app that uses WhatsApp's source code and core service, but adds some additional customization features like color selection and backgrounds for individual conversations. The story has taken a turn for the serious since then, with WhatsApp Plus being officially shut down following the scuffle. 

WhatsApp clamps down on clones

The lockout didn't only affect users of WhatsApp Plus, but also the Material Design-themed WhatsAppMD as well as OGWhatsApp. A short while ago the creators of WhatsApp Plus informed their Google+ community that they had received a cease and desist letter from WhatsApp and that they had no choice but to wrap up the project: 

Bad news

We have received a cease and desist letter from WhatsApp and we are obligated to remove all download links and unfortunately delete this community..

Am really sorry for this but it's out of our hands and WhatsApp has pushed us into a corner that we can't escape this time..

It was a fun ride but it has come to an end..

Deepest regards from Rafalense and me and all the whatsapp+ team for your support

*21 January 2015 RIP WhatsApp+*

''Without warning'': the banned user backlash begins

With the ban steadily spreading across the WhatsApp user base, the reaction is starting to heat up. While there were still some users of WhatsApp Plus that remained unaffected, and some supposed ''remedies'' (that turned out to be no insurance against the ban), the cold light of day today has seen those affected increasingly irate about how the ban was handled.

The question on everyone's lips seems to be: ''why wasn't there any warning given?'' It seems reasonable to expect that in a situation like this, it would be fair to give those likely to be affected a general window for compliance. To send out a message to WhatsApp Plus users saying they had 48 hours to uninstall WhatsApp Plus and install the original WhatsApp or face a ban would have saved many headaches and more PR nightmares for the de-facto Facebook messenger. Those that have refused to uninstall WhatsApp Plus are now facing 72 hour bans and longer.

AndroidPIT WhatsApp Ban FAQ
WhatsApp is clamping down on third-party variations of their service. © WhatsApp

Third party clients were tolerated, but not approved

In case you're wondering how or why WhatsApp would take such steps, it is because developers of apps like WhatsApp Plus or WhatsAppMD have basically taken the source code of WhatsApp and adapted it, for example, to enrich the chat app with new functions or a different look. As you can probably imagine, this is clearly against the terms of WhatsApp's terms of service. The "Intellectual Property Rights" section says: 

WhatsApp reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the Service. You agree to not engage in the use, copying, or distribution of any of the Service other than expressly permitted herein[...].

To put it plainly: No modification of WhatsApp is allowed. While Android is open-source, companies are entitled to protect their intellectual property and restrict it from being adapted to ends they have no control over and that may impact on their branding (as we mentioned in our previous post, WhatsApp make a point of highlighting the possible security issues with adaptations of their source code).

WhatsApp has tolerated such apps in the past, but is now actively tackling them, as not only the lockout but also the cease and desist letters show. Of course, it should be a simple enough affair for WhatsApp to add additional customization options and a Material Design theme to satisfy those users now left out in the cold, but this remains to be seen.

Even users of the official version are affected

Even if at some time in the past you had tried out WhatsApp Plus and then returned to the official WhatsApp, you could still be excluded for 24 hours. Some of our readers let us know that they were using the official WhatsApp currently and were still locked out for 24 hours. The only thing they had in common was that at one point they had used WhatsApp Plus. Likewise if you have just been banned and switched back to the official WhatsApp (or done so to try to avoid being banned), don't expect to be given a reprieve: you'll still have to wait out the 24-hour lockout.

You won't be seeing this anymore, thanks to WhatsApp's crackdown on third-party apps.© AndroidPIT

The 24-hour lockout could just be the beginning

So far, we can only speculate about what might happen after the 24-hour lockout if users continue to use WhatsApp Plus or other third-party apps. One possibility would be a permanent barrier (using your mobile phone number to identify you) so that any wayward users could no longer access WhatsApp in future. We have already checked with WhatsApp and asked for an official response. We'll update this article if a reply comes in.

The solution? Only use the official WhatsApp

Now that WhatsApp is officially taking action against third-apps, with all the might of Facebook's legal department behind them, users have only one real solution: revert to using the official client. You can either grab it from the Play Store link below or direct from WhatsApp's website as an APK. Although the official client has its quirks and is not exactly a feast for the eyes, currently it seems to be the only safe way to continue using WhatsApp without risking a lockout.

WhatsApp Messenger Install on Google Play

Is it time to jump ship from WhatsApp? Probably not

Of course, if all this leaves a sour taste in your mouth you have the option to abandon WhatsApp entirely and head on over to other worthwhile instant messaging services like Viber, Skype or Hangouts. The only issue with these networks is that they have nowhere near the range as WhatsApp, which now tops out at over 700 million monthly users.

(If you want to test the waters of a new instant messenger, we've rounded up the best WhatsApp alternatives for you here as well as the most secure WhatsApp alternatives.)

AndroidPIT WhatsApp Plus Ban Comments
Comments like this are rapidly appearing on sites hosting WhatsApp Plus. ©

When all is said and done, one question remains: why now? The modified versions of WhatsApp have been in circulation for a long time now. Perhaps Facebook is to blame (why not, huh?), considering Facebook has tried to shut down third-party Facebook apps by limiting their ability to share something as critical as photos.

Perhaps this all means that Facebook is thinking about monetizing WhatsApp in the near future and wants to close down as many alternatives as possible before it does so. Or it could just be a simple coincidence or part of a more general crackdown on intellectual property.

What do you think is behind this move? What will you do now?

Translated from an original article by Nico Heister on


Write new comment:
  • This is really such a disappointment, whatsapp+ was just above the rest of instant messagers out there and going back to this original whatsapp is just boring and plain. Facebook buying Whatsapp just made it worse with all there third party bans.
    To the Whatsapp+ team there are millions of users out there that miss your version, you guys made something special and unique but as always higher power takes that away.
    *21 January 2015 RIP WhatsApp+*

  • Having root with Xposed Installer is the best after the ban whatsapp won't be able to ban that because it's not affecting their app in any way

  • Whatsap is never whatsapp without us... We all can choose to attend to another media like viber and whatsapp will never be as it is again... They don't listen to our cries.all they do is what suite their liking ... Am blocked for using plus alright but never going in for that disgusting media...... Viber on my mind now

  • the original whatsapp developers have no imagination ,,md and plus made whatsapp fun to use look at and be associated with as a user they have to ban me for life because i refuse to uninstall it

  • Bojan M. Jan 26, 2015 Link to comment

    I don't care about WA. I only have one contact there, my sister. Although that contact is my the most important one, I can easily negotiate with her the use of another messenger, like Viber. Once I really get banned for using WA+, I'll drop the WA.

  • Brent Jan 26, 2015 Link to comment

    I don't understand why whatsapp is so popular. I only have it because some friends use it. Viber, which is far better and has voice too is the best available. A lot of friends have now moved to Viber and soon I hope to uninstall it once and for all. Whatsapp has no voice messaging, or talk option and doesn't even have a, decent Web app for Windows or wifi only Android tablet. It is pure crap. I would advise everyone to switch over to Viber.. It has everything you need plus a nice desktop app. And no.. I don't work for Viber☺

    • My1 Jan 26, 2015 Link to comment

      does viber also work in browser (hopefully independent from the phone)

    • Bojan M. Jan 26, 2015 Link to comment

      Brent I agree. I think maybe the reason for all that is that WA is older (I'm guessing this) app and gained its popularity earlier. People are basically lazy.

      • My1 Jan 27, 2015 Link to comment

        I dunno about Viber but WA uses your phone number and contacts directly, which also is a nice thing for the lazy ppl...

  • My1 Jan 26, 2015 Link to comment

    fun fact:I use WA+ for quite a time even after the first lockouts and I wasnt locked, and now I switched to WAMD, that has better design and everything.

    but honestly WA+ was best

    • Bojan M. Jan 26, 2015 Link to comment

      Ha! Me as well! I had no idea this is going on until I read it here. Writing this now, I'm still not banned and using WA+ without problems of any kind.

      • My1 Jan 27, 2015 Link to comment

        and now that I read that WA+ was taken by another XDA person I may switch back, but now I know the reason why I couldnt update to 6.72 or so, probably the servers were already taken down whrn I wanted to update...

        (but lol, we are quite fitting to each other)

      • Bojan M. Jan 27, 2015 Link to comment

        Ha ha indeed

  • i really agree with siddharth...they are jealous with whatsapp plus ..they are good for nothing ...they cant even update mods they r baning every whatsapp plus user ..i too was baned for 24 hours sucks when u are baned...hope that whatsapp what they called official will improve and will update some good mods ...

  • Sounds like Facebook who owns WhatsApp has bigger lawyers these days and can do what they like .

  • aye truly agree with that the best going android

  • Siddharth Jan 21, 2015 Link to comment

    I think WhatsApp are jealous of plus developers coz they can't afford all those mods and even increase in download numbers . LMAO😜😛

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