iOS 10.3 beta reveals Apple will cut off 32-bit support in 'future versions of iOS'

Posted:
in iPhone
Bringing an era to a close, an upcoming version of iOS -- possibly iOS 11 -- will drop support for 32-bit apps entirely, according to an error message discovered in the first iOS 10.3 beta.




"This app will not work with future versions of iOS," the message warns when trying to load a 32-bit app in the beta, developer Peter Steinberger discovered. "The developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility."

Apple has used 64-bit processors in iOS devices since 2013's iPhone 5s, and has been gradually ramping up pressure on developers to conform. New apps were required to offer 64-bit support in Feb. 2015, and that policy extended to app updates in June the same year.

The new message is an altered version of one present since iOS 9, simply warning that 32-bit apps might create slowdowns.

While iOS 10.3 is switching to a new filesystem, APFS, Apple is unlikely to drop 32-bit support in another point release, since it typically reserves any compatibility-breaking changes for its annual updates. iOS 11 should be announced at June's Worldwide Developers Conference and launch in September, if the company follows normal schedules.

A future switch to 64-bit only software will effectively cut off any support for any 32-bit based devices, such as the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and the fourth-generation iPad. Those products will be stuck without any iOS or app updates, and gradually become obsolete as Apple and developers move on.

Apple still hosts downloads of older software for equipment left behind by an architecture migration. For example, users of the original iPad that remains stuck on iOS 5 can still download PDF tool GoodReader that was compiled for the older OS.

iOS 10.3 will also introduce features like a Find My AirPods app and a new Reviews API, which should set limits on how often an app can harass users about submitting ratings.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    So now I have a short list of what, devs I'm supposed to call with this info?  Seriously Apple, identify the apps in the store and notify developers.  
    argonaut
  • Reply 2 of 21
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,817member
    Been getting a message similar to that on my iPad Pro saying certain apps may slow down my device and the developer needs to update.
    mobirdjbdragonargonaut
  • Reply 3 of 21
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,817member
    jpellino said:
    So now I have a short list of what, devs I'm supposed to call with this info?  Seriously Apple, identify the apps in the store and notify developers.  
    Really?! Developers already know whether or not their apps are 32-bit or not.
    jbdragonpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    lwiolwio Posts: 82member
    They should allow 32 bit apps to remain on the store, my iPad 2 whilst slow is perfectly usable.
    dotcomctoargonaut
  • Reply 5 of 21
    This should cull out a lot of apps in the App Store. Good idea on Apple's part. 
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    I wrote a lengthy post about this on the Pocket Tactics a year ago; however, they changed forum software and that whole thread has vanished. Anyway, 18 months ago, Apple made it clear to developers that they needed to move to a 64-bit codebase. I wrote my post because I have a lot of games from Slitherine (e.g., Battle Academy - and all games based on that engine, along with a few others). All that software was written for a 32-bit address space, and having traded messages with Slitherine, moving that engine to 64-bit is a massive undertaking; it's not just a simple recompile and go (and don't forget the QA effort). They basically said that there's no chance they'll ever fix this issue, but that this is Apple pushing a non-issue.

    Frankly, Slitherine is right because 32-bit apps can run in a 64-bit environment. Even Microsoft's 32-bit applications work fine in their 64-bit OS. There's no technical reason 32-bit iOS apps won't work. This is Apple forcing a change that has no technical merit. While I highlighted my issues with Slitherine's iOS games, there are many other apps that may never be updated. Whenever Apple decides to make it so iOS will only allow 64-bit apps, we're going to have a lot of broken apps and a lot of unhappy users that can't understand what happened. Those users are going to blame developers instead of blaming Apple for an unnecessary change.
  • Reply 7 of 21
    The problem is one of my favorite apps will never be updated because it was purchased by another company & that company just sits on the many apps they have to collect revenue from their portfolio of acquired properties. They have updated nothing in years. Guess I'll have to keep one iPad permanently stuck with an old version of iOS.
    edited January 2017
  • Reply 8 of 21
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,327member
    jpellino said:
    So now I have a short list of what, devs I'm supposed to call with this info?  Seriously Apple, identify the apps in the store and notify developers.  
    Don't worry dude. We know. You only have to worry about apps that are no longer maintained. Also, don't update your iOS if you use apps that are no longer developed.
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,182administrator
    lwio said:
    They should allow 32 bit apps to remain on the store, my iPad 2 whilst slow is perfectly usable.
    We did mention in the article that Apple maintains the latest compatible version for various OSes for download.

    You just won't get anything new after a point.
  • Reply 10 of 21
    I think this is great. It makes us developers actually support our products after the fact instead of the original mentality of code, publish and move on to the next item, leaving users to suffer over unresolved issues and bugs. I have many old apps which are being supported by developers because they actually coded them versus using "engines" which people rely on way to much or cross-platform systems which generate the code for lazy developers. And it gets rid of the stupid apps too because someone was like, "I think a fart app is good so let's put 100 of those on the store". This will keep the app store fresh and improve the quality of the apps for everyone.
    calijbdragon
  • Reply 11 of 21
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,959member
    dotcomcto said:
    Frankly, Slitherine is right because 32-bit apps can run in a 64-bit environment. Even Microsoft's 32-bit applications work fine in their 64-bit OS. There's no technical reason 32-bit iOS apps won't work. This is Apple forcing a change that has no technical merit.
    Microsoft goes to the ends of the earth to be backwards compatible because they know that's their bread-and-butter: supporting old, often abandoned apps which have worked their way into business systems for large companies who never want to change anything.

    While it's technically possible to run 32-bit apps in a 64-bit environment, how much infrastructure in the OS is required to support that?  Certainly the memory management kernel components.  Also anything which involves data transfers (i.e. drivers).  So then how much 32-bit compatibility testing is required whenever you need to modify or add to that infrastructure?

    It becomes a huge ball-and-chain for everything you want to do to advance your platform.  This is why it takes Windows so long to move forward (and typically ends up doing so with a lot of bugs), and why they weren't able to gain traction in the mobile space (unwilling to drop legacy baggage).
    edited January 2017 StrangeDaysjbdragonpscooter63argonaut
  • Reply 12 of 21
    dotcomcto said:
    I wrote a lengthy post about this on the Pocket Tactics a year ago; however, they changed forum software and that whole thread has vanished. Anyway, 18 months ago, Apple made it clear to developers that they needed to move to a 64-bit codebase. I wrote my post because I have a lot of games from Slitherine (e.g., Battle Academy - and all games based on that engine, along with a few others). All that software was written for a 32-bit address space, and having traded messages with Slitherine, moving that engine to 64-bit is a massive undertaking; it's not just a simple recompile and go (and don't forget the QA effort). They basically said that there's no chance they'll ever fix this issue, but that this is Apple pushing a non-issue.

    Frankly, Slitherine is right because 32-bit apps can run in a 64-bit environment. Even Microsoft's 32-bit applications work fine in their 64-bit OS. There's no technical reason 32-bit iOS apps won't work. This is Apple forcing a change that has no technical merit. While I highlighted my issues with Slitherine's iOS games, there are many other apps that may never be updated. Whenever Apple decides to make it so iOS will only allow 64-bit apps, we're going to have a lot of broken apps and a lot of unhappy users that can't understand what happened. Those users are going to blame developers instead of blaming Apple for an unnecessary change.
    Sorry but I'm going to side with actual iOS dev leadership, who clearly feel there is a technical merit to switching to an all-64-bit codebase. Craig F. isn't just twirling his waxed mustache dreaming up ways to piss people off for no reason.
    edited January 2017 radarthekatjbdragonargonaut
  • Reply 13 of 21
    jpellino said:
    So now I have a short list of what, devs I'm supposed to call with this info?  Seriously Apple, identify the apps in the store and notify developers.  
    Developers that still haven't updated to 64 bit are beyond irresponsible.

    Apple needs to just yank them from the store is what they need to do. Along with a LOT of other Apps.
  • Reply 14 of 21
    lwio said:
    They should allow 32 bit apps to remain on the store, my iPad 2 whilst slow is perfectly usable.
    We did mention in the article that Apple maintains the latest compatible version for various OSes for download.

    You just won't get anything new after a point.
    That's great for older devices. But I want a more recent device that can run old apps - is this not Fine, Apple. Make your new stuff incompatible with perfectly stable old apps.... I won't buy it or upgrade. What about apps where the developer doesn't actively maintain? I use some of those on a daily basis. Let's kill off the major draw of the App Store. Way to go Tim.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,959member
    r00fus1 said:
    lwio said:
    They should allow 32 bit apps to remain on the store, my iPad 2 whilst slow is perfectly usable.
    We did mention in the article that Apple maintains the latest compatible version for various OSes for download.

    You just won't get anything new after a point.
    That's great for older devices. But I want a more recent device that can run old apps - is this not Fine, Apple. Make your new stuff incompatible with perfectly stable old apps.... I won't buy it or upgrade. What about apps where the developer doesn't actively maintain? I use some of those on a daily basis. Let's kill off the major draw of the App Store. Way to go Tim.
    Yes, let's turn iOS into MS Windows where it takes a decade or more to make any major changes because you're spending all of your resources supporting abandonware.  And in the meantime, you miss the boat on market shifts (mobile devices).
    StrangeDaysradarthekatlibertyforalljbdragonpscooter63
  • Reply 16 of 21
    jpellino said:
    So now I have a short list of what, devs I'm supposed to call with this info?  Seriously Apple, identify the apps in the store and notify developers.  
    Developers that still haven't updated to 64 bit are beyond irresponsible.

    Apple needs to just yank them from the store is what they need to do. Along with a LOT of other Apps.
    Not really - a lot of developers use libraries that are not necessarily updated which are in themselves 32bit, or have other specific requirements which break compatibility or otherwise cause issues in new versions of the OS.  Sometimes those developers aren't able to source alternatives, or write their own code.  Hell Apple use third party libraries for their own apps.  Please don't use us irresponsible, when you don't understand.

    As a developer myself, who spends significant time upgrading libraries and dependencies to fully support new OSes - ANNUALLY - I understand, it means I don't have time to create NEW useful functionality.  That said, my apps work great on the latest version of iOS and are fully 64 bit and everything else compliant, I've just spent a lot of time doing it.
  • Reply 17 of 21
    jpellino said:
    So now I have a short list of what, devs I'm supposed to call with this info?  Seriously Apple, identify the apps in the store and notify developers.  
    So, you don't think Apple has taken a few minutes and sent a "Developer All" email?  Come on.  You'd be howling if Apple didn't take the time to notify consumers that there dated app was in danger of not working with future systems.  Obviously they have done both, but this notice is essential to give consumers a heads up, so they have option to take action, e.g., pressure company, switch to another app, not upgrade, or as is likely in 99% of cases, not give a damn that this years old fart app may not work too much longer.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 18 of 21
    If every app that triggers the "this app will slow down your iPhone" message will stop working soon, then I'm in big trouble as I rely on many of these. 
    digital_guyargonaut
  • Reply 19 of 21
    netroxnetrox Posts: 703member
    dotcomcto said:
    I wrote a lengthy post about this on the Pocket Tactics a year ago; however, they changed forum software and that whole thread has vanished. Anyway, 18 months ago, Apple made it clear to developers that they needed to move to a 64-bit codebase. I wrote my post because I have a lot of games from Slitherine (e.g., Battle Academy - and all games based on that engine, along with a few others). All that software was written for a 32-bit address space, and having traded messages with Slitherine, moving that engine to 64-bit is a massive undertaking; it's not just a simple recompile and go (and don't forget the QA effort). They basically said that there's no chance they'll ever fix this issue, but that this is Apple pushing a non-issue.

    Frankly, Slitherine is right because 32-bit apps can run in a 64-bit environment. Even Microsoft's 32-bit applications work fine in their 64-bit OS. There's no technical reason 32-bit iOS apps won't work. This is Apple forcing a change that has no technical merit. While I highlighted my issues with Slitherine's iOS games, there are many other apps that may never be updated. Whenever Apple decides to make it so iOS will only allow 64-bit apps, we're going to have a lot of broken apps and a lot of unhappy users that can't understand what happened. Those users are going to blame developers instead of blaming Apple for an unnecessary change.
    Sorry but no. I want all the legacy software removed to save space and to improve performance.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    This would be easier on developers if Apple had bothered to incorporate some mechanism for paid upgrades. The way it is now, you pay your 99 cents or a couple dollars for the app once, and expect the developers to keep working on iOS compatibility for free in perpetuity.

    While 64-bit support has been sort of automatic in Xcode since 2013, it's not necessarily just a matter of 'recompiling and you're done'. Apple changes stuff all the time, functions are depreciated or renamed, the tools change (and break). There's been a bug in Xcode's interface builder since last summer that still hasn't been fixed. Developers have to work around all this, every year, and again it's expected for free because they got a few dollars (or a few cents) a few years back.

    Apple further discourages updates by punishing developers by making ratings and reviews disappear every time you release a new version. (Yeah you can find 'all versions' if you dig but the default is to make the app appear unrated, unreviewed.) 

    Apple doesn't care about this, they make their money selling the hardware. And when you give up and leave, there's plenty of new devs to take your place, so they aren't likely to fix it any time soon. They have added the new subscription thing, so maybe that will be the model going forward. Instead of paying eg. $5 now, then $1 next year or the year after for an upgrade, you can pay a few $ every year?

    There's a handful of older iOS apps I will be sad to lose when/if this comes to pass, but the only app I'm going to really miss is one of Apple's unloved unupdated apps: Bento. I paid for the desktop version (including upgrade fees twice), the iPhone version, and the iPad version, then Apple (under their Filemaker brand) decided they were discontinuing it. I guess I should contact Apple and demand they release a 64-bit version?
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