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ios11 and app compatibilityiOS 11 - is your favorite app about to stop working?
April 12, 2017

iOS 11 won't support 32-bit apps - what does that mean and will your favorite apps stop working?



Apple will remove support for 32-bit apps on iOS 11 which promises to leave behind certain developers who haven’t upgraded their apps to 64-bit. The reason for this is that the next range of Apple processors won’t even allow the execution of 32-bit code.

The writing's been on the wall for a while for developers who were informed in October 2014 of the need to upload only 64-bit apps. Although it's a foreseeable change, it will entail some complications. In order to see why, we need to understand what we mean by bits.

The vast majority of current processors are 64-bit. Before these, 32-bit processors dominated the market. Put simply, a 64-bit processor can handle more data at the same time, and is therefore more powerful than 32-bit. 64-bit processors need 64-bit apps to realize their full potential, but most can also run 32-bit apps.

App needs to be updated to work with future versions of ios

In the case of Apple, the first use of a 64-bit processor was in 2013 – with the A7 chip on the iPhone 5S and iPad Air. Since then, iOS has been 64-bit, but allowed for both 64-bit and 32-bit apps – the latter by way of special upscaling code.

So why make a move away from this dual compatibility with iOS 11? A conscious decision on the part of Apple, it’s just time to move on and clear the cobwebs (any remaining 32-bit apps haven't been updated in about 4 years and are thus not likely to be of a high quality). There are certainly upsides for consumers to 64-bit only compatibility – the system will be lighter and quicker (you will not need the code to run 32-bit apps) and more secure.

On the other hand, recent estimates suggest that 8% of applications on the App Store are 32-bit (some 190,000). These apps will stop working with iOS 11 and will be deleted by Apple in an upcoming purge to avoid having zombie apps in the AppStore. So does that include your favorite app? Well there’s an easy way to find out: Go to settings > General > About > Applications: any app that is listed there will not work with iOS 11.  If your favorite app is listed there, it might be time to find a newer one or, if you’re lucky, the wayward developer might hastily re-release it in 64-bit.