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Specifically on Whatsapp and Messages....

I want to completely suppress the message counter. For it to never, ever, appear.

I have played with a number of options, restarted, and can't seem to nail it.

Android 12 on a Sony Xperia phone.

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They are called app icon badges.

If you are on Android 12 there must be an option in Settings > Notifications > Advanced Options > App icon badges toggle

Also if you long press the app icon > app info > notifications > App ion badges

That's that but I'm not sure about Sony Xperia specifically but as Firelord said and from this thread, I am inferring that you will need to change the launcher.
Personal suggestion: use Square Home

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    In Notifications, I do not have "Advanced" and cannot find any references to "App icon badges" I have something called "Notification dots" which I just turned off globally. Thanks for the reference to Square Home -- that looks really great! (though not going there just now) Commented May 2, 2023 at 13:29

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