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

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.