32-bit apps may no longer work with future iOS versions

By , Jan 31, 2017

A beta of iOS 10.3 that was seeded to developers last week comes with an updated app compatibility warning which cautions users that 32-bit apps may no longer work with future iOS versions, suggesting iOS 11 will likely stop supporting non-64-bit apps. In June 2015, Apple warned developers that all apps and app updates submitted to App Store must include 64-bit support alongside 32-bit code.

When a user launches a 32-bit app, iOS 9 puts up a warning saying using 32-bit software on a 64-bit device may affect system performance. The wording of the prompt has changed in iOS 10.3 beta 1 and now specifically states that 32-bit apps may stop functioning on future iOS editions completely.

The new prompt reads as follows:

This app will not work with future versions of iOS. The developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the previous prompt:

This app has not been updated to 64-bit. Using it may affect overall system performance.

iOS devices with the Apple-designed A7 or newer processor are 64-bit, including the sixth-generation iPod touch and every iPhone and iPad from the respective iPhone 5s and iPad Air models onward. This is a long overdue change because running legacy 32-bit apps alongside modern 64-bit apps does indeed slow down the system.

On a 64-bit device, the system uses 64-bit versions of the kernel, libraries and drivers. When a user launches a 32-bit app, separate 32-bit versions of the system frameworks are also loaded which strains the memory and consumes resources.

If iOS 11 stops supporting 32-bit apps as suggested, developers will be motivated to put out compatibility updates to avoid being removed from App Store. By enforcing 64-bit apps only, iOS 11 will theoretically use less memory overall because it may never need to load 32-bit frameworks in the first place.

Apps would launch faster and multitasking should be smoother.

“Because all of the built-in apps already support the 64-bit runtime, it is to everyone’s benefit that all apps running on 64-bit devices be compiled for the 64-bit runtime, especially apps that support background processing,” Apple told developers in 2015.

Beginning February 2015, Apple required that all submitted apps support 64-bit architecture.

Due to the fact that a lot of apps on App Store haven’t been updated for compatibility in ages (we’re looking at you, 32-bit apps!), Apple in the past few months began quietly removing tens of thousands outdated or incompatible apps.

Apple provides a transition guide to developers that details porting apps to 64-bit architecture.

  • Share:
  • Follow:

  • SpideyRules

    Just when you thought the only way Apple could force users to upgrade their phones was making the hardware obsolete….

    • Seriously? App Store is full of zombie apps, junk software and apps that haven’t been maintained or updated in ages and don’t even support 5.5-inch screens natively. Such apps need to go away, has nothing to do with planned obsolescence you so effortlessly imply..

      • SpideyRules

        I didn’t imply anything. I made a joke. Cool your jets Sparky.

      • Bradley Hines

        Your jokes aren’t funny if you couldn’t tell by all the people not laughing. Lol.

      • SpideyRules

        You laughed

    • Jeff Laing

      Actually, its the reverse. I have apps that I *know* won’t be fixed because they aren’t in the App Store any more. If they didn’t work on my next iPhone, I’d seriously consider *not* upgrading.

      • SpideyRules

        You mean until that out-of-date app gets pulled from the App Store, thus removing functionality for the app.

      • Jeff Laing

        No, I mean that by taking away my favorite app(s), Apple are encouraging users to *not* upgrade their phones, which is the reverse of what you suggested.

        The app was already pulled from the App Store from the developer – that doesn’t mean I can’t continue using it until it stops working.

        The developer probably assumes that he’s not going to see significant revenue from upgrading to 64-bit and he’s almost certainly right. Or he may have given up software and become a celebrity chef for all I know.

        This is not a zombie app or junk software. It is, in my opinion, the best of breed – however, presumably the developer cannot afford to keep maintaining it. If he were to re-release the same software at a higher price point, I would almost certainly repurchase it, but I can’t speak for his other customers.

  • Jack Bruienne

    This might mean that iOS 11 will not support iPhone 5/c and iPad 3/4…

    • Agneev Mukherjee

      Shouldn’t be, because iPhone 5 released in 2012, 5c in 2013, so 5c users are entitled to iOS 11.

      • JackMacWindows

        Well, the iPhone 5c is basically an iPhone 5 in a colored plastic cover, so it wouldn’t be weird if a replacement for an old phone was discontinued at the same time the replaced phone goes away. People who got a 5c should know that it isn’t as good as a 5s.

  • Stephen Hedger

    thats just crap. to be fair iv never seen that warning message so i assume all the apps i use are 64bit friendly but what if your fave app no longer works?

    • Natalie

      The dev should update it lol. If an apps someone’s favourite, many people, I assume, would be using it too making it a popular app. Apps that arent installed on many devices arent worth maintaining.

      • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

        They should be. I hate not being able to use my favorite apps from years ago because iOS says no, but force me to download the rip-off of a cheaply made version of the original.

    • Well, I’m guessing the burden to update apps so they work and take advantage of the features in latest iOS releases lies with the developers rather than Apple.

  • Igor Engelen

    I should get an option to accept the performance impact and play those old games I paid for anyway.
    No longer accepting new 32 bit apps in their store I can totally understand.

  • Arjan Vlek

    Never seen this warning, but that’s expected on a 32-bit device. It can’t even run 64-bit apps…