End of the Road For 32-Bit

End of the Road For 32-Bit

This September, Apple will release iOS 11 for iPhones and iPads, bringing with it a host of new features and introducing changes to a few old ones. iOS 11 sports updates including:

  • ‘Photos’ finally supporting GIFs
  • App redesigns, such as the iTunes Store and the App Store
  • Drag and drop multiple URLs, photos, text, etc
  • Siri updates and improvements
  • A new ‘Files’ app
  • General redesigns and tweaks
  • And most importantly, withdrawn support for 32-bit apps

Why?

Since the release of the iPhone 5S in 2013 when the 64-bit processor was first introduced, Apple has continually warned both consumers and developers about moving away from 32-bit applications and delicately urging developers to update their apps. With the release of iOS 9 in 2015, Apple warned that 32-bit apps significantly slow down a 64-bit system, since running them requires the phone to launch a whole separate set of 32-bit frameworks. This means that the RAM needs to divide itself over the two, slowing the phone down since it can’t ‘concentrate’ properly on running either one.

What does this mean?

With iOS 11, any 32-bit apps currently installed will not even launch. Instead a message will pop up saying that the developer of the app needs to update it. Eventually, all 32-bit apps will be deleted from the app store: around 200,000, making up about 8% of all apps. However, for a time, they will continue to be available for download, and will still operate on phones with older systems.

To check which, if any, of your downloaded apps are 32-bit: go to ‘Settings’ —> ‘General’ —> ‘About’ —> ‘Applications’. Here you can see a list of your obsolete software. If you tap on one, it will take you to its store page where you can see whether or not it has any updates available. It seems that most remaining 32-bit apps in the Store are games, however almost all residual 32-bit apps are old, unused, partially broken, or both. All apps submitted to the App Store after July 2016 were required to be 64-bit so newer apps are perfectly fine and, in general, the 32-bit apps tend to be abandoned already.

However…

Only devices with a 64-bit processor will even be able to update, which means all iPhones of 5 and 5C or older and all iPads of generation 4 or older will not be able to download iOS 11. They will therefore get no system updates, be unable to download new apps, and will not get any security updates or bug fixes.

If you have any favourite apps that are still 32-bit, unfortunately all you can do is try and contact the developer in the hope that they’ll update it. Otherwise, I’m afraid its tough luck, and the app(s) will stop working on your phone altogether come the release of the new update later this year.

Transcripts are available from Apple’s WWDC 2017 videos, making it simple to find any specific information using keywords to search for topics.

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